UCPS board says full speed ahead on superintendent search

UCPS board says full speed ahead on superintendent search
Dr. Mary Ellis (Source: Union County Public Schools)
Dr. Mary Ellis (Source: Union County Public Schools)

UNION COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - The Union County Public School (UCPS) Board has decided the process to find a new superintendent.

Current Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis is retiring after more than 30 years in education. The board met Tuesday morning and voted 7-2 to let the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA) find superintendent candidates with no timelines.

Board Member Gary Sides wanted to delay the search until December, after elections.

"It is prudent to allow a new board the leeway," Sides said. "To select the best superintendent they think they can work with."

Board members thought it best to proceed with the search.  They opted not to find a search firm but simply voted to give the job of finding applicants to NCSBA.

"When you bring in someone that knows North Carolina," UCPS Board Member Leslie Boyd said. "Knows our rules and advocates for us, it makes perfect sense."

The board will pay NCSBA no more than $25,000 for the superintendent search. Two Board members voted against the motion, Jason Marton and Kevin Stewart.  They would have preferred a timeline and to have a new superintendent in place by the next school year.

"Not to have the system that's leading the state," UCPS Board Member Jason Marton said.  "Not have a full time leader put in place quickly, not rushed but expeditiously."

Board member Kevin Stewart also believes having a new superintendent by August is a good idea. He tells WBTV this would give the new leader time to review the district's budget and policies.

"I think it would be advantageous," UCPS Board Member Kevin Stewart said. "To have a superintendent on board prior to the school year and frankly in time for them to get their feet wet."

Board members are not worried.  They believe NCSBA will give timelines.

"If they are going to conduct a search for us," Boyd said. "That they are going to have to have some objectives and some timelines that are normal."

Some in the community believe Ellis is leaving because of a recent investigation.

The State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) cleared her of wrongdoing.  Ellis formed a company while she was UCPS superintendent and was developing a relationship with another company the district had contracts with.

"I think she has done all she can do," UCPS Parent Britanya Bethea said. "I think she is getting out at the right time with a good standing, so it's not too much mud on her feet."

Board members are standing by Ellis and say her retirement was not a forced decision.

"I didn't have an issue prior to this investigation," Stewart said. "Because those of us on the inside and saw what was actually transpiring and some of the allegations had no credibility."

The NCSBA is currently conducting about four superintendent searches.

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