Locals suggest naming Surry Schools’ Dr. Serbrenia Sims as new superintendent

By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: January 14, 2020 | 3:15 p.m.

As the next step in the Surry County School Board’s search for a new superintendent of schools, announced on Oct. 28, a public hearing regarding qualifications desired by the community for an incoming superintendent was held on Jan. 7 at Luther Porter Jackson Middle School. 

The cold, rainy evening most likely was partly responsible for the small turn-out. Nevertheless, about a dozen hardy souls showed up to express their wishes and concerns in regard to potential candidates for the position.  The board’s decision to pay the Virginia School Board Association (VSBA) a reported $6,000 to organize and guide a nationwide search for candidates apparently was on the minds of the majority of those who stood to address the board during the hearing. 

The first speaker, Gwyndolyn J. Brown, said, “I personally don’t see a need for a search when we have someone already qualified here,” after indicating that she was in favor of skipping the process altogether and hiring current 12-year Surry County Assistant Superintendent Dr. Serbrenia Sims to fill the position. 

Michael Washington, after saying that a search generally is for something lost, continued, “I don’t think we have anything lost here.  Dr. Sims has proven that she’s loyal. She’s been with the county for an extended period of time…  I believe she cares about the students. She cares about the county.” 

“I believe that we spend a lot of money on searches, but it’s unnecessary,” he added. “We went through this same thing just three years ago. I believe if we put Dr. Sims in the job, we won’t have to do this search for an extended period of time. She’s proven that she will do what it takes for the county and for the students.” 

Christopher Flowers, a former Surry County student just returned from college spoke next, saying, “I’ve known Dr. Sims ever since I was in the fourth grade…  I just think that Dr. Simms is the best qualified candidate because she’s been around for quite a long time now. She’s more than deserving of the position.” 

Larry Blunt, who began by saying that he has known Dr. Sims for a very long time, added, “I think she’s qualified to do the job. She’s been with the county for quite awhile and I’ve asked different ones in the county about her and they say, ‘Oh yes. She’s real good. I hope she gets it.’  So don’t see why you’d go looking for somebody when you’ve already got somebody qualified already here.”  

“The superintendent that I would prefer would be Dr. Sims,” said Lynette Lyttle, adding that Sims had helped her through schooling of her son. “She was here at the middle school, and she was an awesome principal and then she moved up. She showed me the ways that I think she should be the superintendent.  Dr. Sims would be my vote.”

Jackie Ricks did not call Sims by name, but did say that she wanted to ask, “in the search, consider in-house.” She then expressed a concern about the salary requirements saying, “When you’re looking for a superintendent, You need to look at that salary – what Dr. Thornton was making, and then who you can really bring in.”  

Along the same lines, Lorraine Davis said, “My concern – I know that the superintendent that went out, his salary was pretty much up there.  So the person coming in I hope you won’t consider paying them the same salary.  That’s my concern. The salary.”

There being no one else who wished to speak, chair Laura Ruffin adjourned the meeting with the announcement that there were laptops available in the back of the room for anyone who had not filled out a survey of desired characteristics for an incoming superintendent, adding that the final tally would be the next day and results were expected by 4 p.m.

Board chair Laura Ruffin said afterward, “Tomorrow we’re going to establish the qualifications from the surveys. After those are sent straight to the VSBA, that’s when it really starts.  It’s a process.  And hopefully we will have quite a number of surveys because we want everyone to have a voice in what we’re doing. We’re just following the process.”

The next step is an invitation for applications between Jan. 10 and Feb. 7, to be followed by candidate interviews during February and March with the announcement of the successful candidate planned for some time in March or April.   

When asked for her feeling on the small turnout for the meeting she said, “For hearings we generally don’t get a lot, but we’re thankful for those that we do get.  Because we do listen. We do listen.”  

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