Superintendent Says Farewell


By Zoe Lawson

Every school year brings change, but some years usher in more than others. This school year has brought about a new budget for FHSD, a new principal for FHN, and a new tax for the community. Perhaps the most significant change of all isn’t what has come in, but rather what’s going out. Earlier on, FHSD Superintendent Pam Sloan announced her plans to retire the the end of the 2016 school year.

“I would say [Dr. Sloan’s biggest impact on FHSD has been] bringing the district up to be a formidable force,” School Board Member Amy McEvoy said. “Being kind of out there on the forefront of just getting things done in terms of our scores, our athletics. It just feels like everything, our climate in our buildings, our staff’s dedication to learning new things and bringing up our standards has improved with Dr. Sloan. She created an atmosphere where all of that was possible and I think that’s going to be her biggest legacy.”

Sloan’s announcement has brought about discussion as to what kind of person the school board is looking for to fill the vacant seat. The process of choosing a new superintendent is extensive. The school board is currently looking into whether or not they will hire a consulting firm to assist them in the search process. This firm’s job, if hired, would be to take a description compiled by the members of the School Board of their ideal candidate and find applicants fitting their criteria.

For School Board Member Rene Cope, it is important that the new superintendent have a wide worldview to prepare students for their futures.

“It’s important that they understand the idea of a global economy and global competition for our students and the careers that will be available in the future,” Cope said. “They need to be able to help us make sure that all of our students are college and career ready. Looking at our curriculum and making sure we’re transferring that knowledge well. I also think we need someone that’s involved in the community, talking with citizens and students and taxpayers. They need to involve themselves in the community and become a part of the community, which I think Dr. Sloan did very well.”

Other school board members, including McEvoy are more concerned with the actual operations of the district as a whole, and want a candidate who will be focused on the everyday business of FHSD.

“I would like to think that we’ll look at maybe some professional organizations that they belong to, how well read are they, what professional development have they done themselves for themselves to get where they’re at,” McEvoy said. “I think you can tell a lot about a person with that because you can tell what direction, what line of thinking they have. It shows what they’re going to be more inclined to think about or to worry about on a day-to-day basis.”

After finding a pool of candidates from which to draw, the school board compiles an interview committee made up of community members, teachers, and other individuals with an interest in the future of the district. They interview all candidates extensively. The interview committee then selects a smaller group of top candidates from the results of those interviews, and interviews the smaller group for a second time. The field is then narrowed again, and more interviews are conducted. The pool continues to shrink until two final candidates remain, who are interviewed one final time before one is elected to become FHSD’s new superintendent.

While many individuals sit on the interview committee and are involved in the interview process, it is ultimately up to the Board’s discretion to choose the candidate who becomes superintendent, and the person they think will be the best fit for FHSD in the years to come.

“It’s the most important decision that we make, so there’s a lot of pressure to make sure we make the right one,” School Board Member Cynthia Bice said. “The decision we make about who to hire is going to shape the future of the district for decades, and so we really don’t want to mess that up.”

Overall, it’s still unclear what impact Sloan’s retirement will have on the district, but it is clear there will be one, and that picking a suitable replacement will not be easy for the school board.

“It’s hard to say what the changes will be until we know who the new leader is going to be and the focus and direction of that new leader,” Bice said. “Dr. Sloan will be greatly missed, so whoever it is, they’ve got some pretty large shoes to fill.”