MOORE SCHOOLS: Superintendent accepts job in Virginia Beach

Dec. 19, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

Moore County Schools Superintendent Aaron Spence will officially resign toward the end of this school year, the district announced Tuesday night. Spence was approved Tuesday by the school board in Virginia Beach, Va., to become the new superintendent there next year.

Spence, who was hired in Moore County two years ago, is originally from Virginia Beach and still has family there, according to the press release announcing his plans to leave.

"I discussed this at length with my wife before accepting the position in Virginia Beach because Moore County is so important to us," Spence said in a written statement. "Our children love their schools, and we have a strong bond with this community. This decision was not easy, but in the end the opportunity to be closer to family was a strong pull, and we believe the right decision for us at this time."

Spence's new contract in Virginia has not been signed yet; in Moore County he is earning more than $182,000 per year — making him one of the highest-paid superintendents in the state, according to research conducted by WRAL-TV earlier this year.

Kathy Farren, chairwoman of the Moore County Schools Board of Education, said she's sad to see Spence go. The board will convene next month to finalize plans for finding a new leader for the 12,500-student school system, although she said some initial discussions are already under way. The board will likely use a search team provided by the N.C. School Boards Association, she said — the same method used in finding Spence in 2011.

"That's who we used, and they did a great job," she said, adding that candidates generally are employed elsewhere, so conducting interviews, background checks and other research on a potential new superintendent needs to be done carefully and confidentially. The NCSBA service would do that, she said, and would likely have them a candidate by the time Spence leaves — which hasn't been decided on exactly but will probably be sometime in June, Farren said.

"We're hoping not (to have to hire an interim superintendent)," she said. "We're hoping to get the process started in January. ... And that would give us six months to find someone. Usually a superintendent search for a system our size takes four to six months."

In the press release about Spence's plans, the district notes several accomplishments in his short tenure — including the creation of both an entrepreneurship program and a district-wide technology initiative. It also notes that the district's end-of-grade test scores rose from 43rd in the state to 22nd under Spence's leadership, although he gave credit to others.

"This is an incredibly committed and talented team of educators who care about making learning meaningful and special for every child, every day," he said.