Bryan’s hire gives reason for optimism

Apr. 12, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

The Lee County school system is facing some obstacles in the road ahead.

State and local funding cuts could trim more than $5 million from the system’s budget, leading to the loss of even more teachers’ assistants and the potential loss of a valuable tutorial program. The system doesn’t appear to have the full support of the Lee County Board of Commissioners or the county’s legislative delegation. Aside from the usual ongoing funding squabbles, efforts to align the system’s education calendar with the calendar of Central Carolina Community College through legislation were rebuffed by Rep. Mike Stone, who refused to introduce a bill (despite the board of education’s unanimous resolution back in January in support of the change) that would have helped all Lee County students by making the development of apprenticeship programs and other partnerships with CCCC easier.

Other non-political challenges include anticipated enrollment increases and a free/reduced lunch rate of 63 percent, among many others.

But most of North Carolina’s schools are facing some of the same obstacles. Lee County’s road diverges a bit because of the significant matter of replacing a superintendent. The board of education’s decision this week, however, to offer the position to an internal candidate brightened prospects for the transition, and the coming years, considerably.

We asked in this space three weeks ago for the board to strongly consider an internal applicant to replace departing Superintendent Dr. Jeff Moss, who is bound for South Carolina on July 1. We weren’t alone; it’s our understanding that many faculty and staff of Lee County Schools and members of the community contacted board members offering support for a “local” hire, specifically in the name of Dr. Andy Bryan — Moss’s number two in command — or Dr. Carol Chappell, the director of K-5 instruction, who has deep ties to the community. The obvious recognition of the inherent value of an internal candidate, particularly when there were two very good ones, was ultimately acted upon at the board’s meeting on Tuesday. Although the board at one point looked to be headed toward hiring a consultant for a national search, members voted 6-1 on Mark Akinosho’s motion to offer the position to Bryan.

It bears repeating what was said three weeks ago by many of us: Bryan, the LCS associate superintendent for curriculum and public instruction, is a veteran of the Lee County system and possesses a knack that’s critical in a role like superintendent — the rare ability to get along with everyone. Bryan was a finalist for the job four years ago and has been groomed for the position by Moss. A “playbook” of progress and innovation is in place in Lee County, and Bryan knows the players and the playbook — not to mention how critical it is for our schools to show up on the various academic scoreboards.

Bryan seemed taken aback by the decision on Tuesday to offer him the position. The standing ovation he received after the vote was really something to cheer for.