On Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, a district-issued press release announced that Superintendent Dr. Anne Garrett would retire March 1 after 13 years of service.
Garrett’s tenure saw district performance scores rise from 40th to 11th and also saw Garrett named Haywood County’s Person of the Year and North Carolina Superintendent of the Year.
At the time Garrett said that she’d probably devote more effort to writing children’s books, and wouldn’t be part of the search process that will identify her replacement.
That process is now more important than ever; inheriting a high-performing district also means inheriting high expectations, and Garrett’s replacement will have to manage both in an environment where even scoring better than 100 of the state’s 115 school districts would be a disappointment.
When reached for comment, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Bill Nolte deferred to board chairman Chuck Francis, because Nolte said he’s interested in the job and felt that commenting on the process as both a potential candidate and an administrator would be inappropriate.
Francis in turn said he’d deliberately excluded Nolte from conversations regarding the process, for that very reason.
“We may just list the job and see who comes, although I know in the past we’ve used our [board] attorney to take applications at his office,” Francis said.
Alternatively, HCS could engage the North Carolina School Board to perform the search.
“I’ve talked to several other districts, and they said that the NCSB was very effective,” he said.
On Jan. 9, Francis convened a closed session during the board meeting to discuss the selection of an interim superintendent; upon returning to open session, board attorney Pat Smathers read a statement.
“Haywood County Schools over the course of the last 15 years has emerged as one of the premier school systems in the state of North Carolina. Much of our success has been on the back of Dr. Anne Garrett,” Smathers said. “In building this remarkable system, she has also created and incredible leadership team around her. Given the performance and results, a departure from proven success would be a fool’s errand. We know that performance is driven by passion and consistency, so it’s only logical that we appoint Dr. Bill Nolte as the interim superintendent.”
Nolte will assume the position March 1.
Moving forward, the board will soon begin considering how to choose a permanent replacement for Garrett — a process that Smathers said will be completely public.
“The process is public — the process is completely public but some of the information may be private,” he said. “The biggest drawback to doing everything public is that the people who apply may not want their employer to know, that’s the big thing.”