Board to name new super Thursday

Published 7:44 pm Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Escambia County School Board is expected to name on the next superintendent Thursday.

The board will meet in a workshop Thursday at 2 p.m., followed by a 4:30 p.m. board meeting.

Interviews with the two finalists – Assistant Superintendent John J. Knott and Escambia County Middle School Assistant Principal Kim D. Staley – were held on May 5. Candidates were questioned in “round robin” style, and interviews lasted approximately an hour-and-a-half each.

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“My passion is the children,” Knott said. “I think that we have begun on a road of growth and I want to be there.”

If hired, Knott said his main goal is to bring the system into the technological age. Knott said he also plans to focus on three priorities.

“Being superintendent is all encompassing, but my first priority is schools safety. Before we can teach out children, we have to make sure our environment is as safe as possible,” he said. “I would also like to increase our communication outlets, using social media more. And my last priority is to continue to provide the quality education that our children deserve.”

And to do that, Knott said advances in technology must be implemented in the school – namely putting a tablet in the hands of every child in the system.

“The one-to-one initiative is a huge push right now,” he said. “Two years ago, we were able to secure funding to make each of our campuses wireless, but that’s not good enough. We have to work on our infrastructure where we can provide one-on-one technology to our students; provide training for our teachers. We want to put that technology in every student’s hands. We have a plan, and I want to see it come to fruition.”

If hired, Knott said he also plans to focus on teacher and staff professional development.

“Nothing stays the same in education,” he said. “Things constantly change, and we must make sure our teachers and staff are developing the skills they need to educate our children.”

Staley said he believes his education experience will work in his favor.

“It was a good experience for me to go in and taking a look at how a school operates inside-out, by being an assistant principal,” Staley said. “There seems to be some perception in this county, that certain parts are being treated differently than the others.

“Any decision we make as leaders of any organization, it affects the customer, in this case, that’s the children,” he said. “Our biggest focus should be on transitioning to the 2020 plan, and making sure we communicate that transition to the general public. Making sure that each stakeholder in those feeder patterns understand what we’re transitioning to, and why.

The 2020 plan is the state’s new plan for education, Staley said.

“There’s a big focus on ensuring that every student who graduates from any K-12 system has a pathway after high school, be it career or college,” he said.

“If I’m selected, my goal is for every student to have a pathway out of high school going in some type of direction,” he said. “The 2020 plan gives us that pathway, and to make sure that we are synchronizing all of the systems within these communities, to make sure that all children are accounted for.”