Keeping Blount the right move to make

The Clinton City Board of Education was wise to extend the contract of superintendent Dr. Stuart Blount, and we are glad to see that they did so by a unanimous vote (minus member E.R. Mason who was not present due to illness).

The decision and the vote shows a renewed confidence in a superintendent who has come a long way since taking his first leadership job here back in 2012. He has earned that confidence three-fold in the years since taking the helm, something that can clearly be seen in the strides the system, and thus the students, have made in that same time frame.

Over the course of his years here, Blount has proven his educational mettle in the top seat, and it is refreshing to see that school board members — even those who have taken exception to some of his decisions — recognize his growth and the strength with which he has led the school system during his tenure.

Clinton City has seen positive advancement under Blount’s leadership, something that can’t always be determined by test scores that, like all school systems, tend to rise and fall from one year to the next.

Serving in his first superintendency, Blount used his initial four years to learn the school system, its board, its staff and its students and the community, a laudable act in itself. Then, he started making slow and deliberate changes, some of them we agreed with, others we did not. But looking back now at even the most tumultuous of those decisions, the end result seems to have helped define, if not justify, the means in which he took to get there.

What’s more, even when we have disagreed with Blount’s decisions, we never questioned his intent. During his tenure, one thing Blount has proven time and again is that he has, at his core, the best interest of the system, its students and its staff and faculty at the forefront of every turn he has made and every recommendation he has presented to the school board.

And even those on the school board who have questioned his decisions from time to time usually have voted for his recommendations, proof that, in their hearts they believe that Blount has kept the school system’s improvement as his focus.

Extending his contract allows Blount to continue paving the educational way for the school system, it allows the school board to continue the agendas members set out to accomplish in their own tenures and it helps to ensure that we don’t lose a good man to another educational agency long before we are ready to give him up.

Blount would likely say it’s not him but those who work alongside him that have been the catalysts for the educational strides. We don’t disagree, but a team needs a strong leader willing to listen even to those who disagree with him in order for such strides to be made. We view Blount in that regard.

It’s difficult these days to find good leaders, individuals who want to be in small towns, leading small administrative teams and making a positive difference along the way. When they come along, and they become immersed in our community the way Blount has (he is currently president of the United Way of Sampson County, a Kiwanian and a member of First United Methodist Church, to name a few) and truly care about the people they lead, it’s important to do everything you can to hang onto them.

The Clinton City Board of Education must have recognized that fact and they acted accordingly.

Kudos go to chairwoman Carol Worley and each board member for seeing the importance of having a man like Blount at the helm of the school system and for doing what was necessary to keep him.