Wake schools chief candidates meet community
Posted May 28, 2013
Cary, N.C. — Three final candidates hoping to lead the state's largest school district as superintendent answered questions from the public Tuesday in a community forum at Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh.
Dr. Dana Bedden, superintendent of the Irving Independent School System in Irving, Texas; Ann Clark, deputy superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools; and Dr. James Merrill, superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools in Virginia Beach, Va., were culled from about two dozen applicants to replace Tony Tata, who was ousted in September.
The candidates spoke candidly about the issues facing Wake County schools and the steps they would take to lead the district into the future. The next superintendent will have to work with county commissioners on an $810 million bond issue for school construction at a time when tensions between commissioners and the school board are running high.
"I think it's a matter of rebuilding relationships (and) making sure we keep open lines of communication," Bedden said.
Clark said she would work to get the focus back on students, not elected officials.
Merrill said he would strive to keep politics from affecting education.
"Let the politics take care of themselves. Is it a little more vociferous right now than normal? Yes, but that goes in cycles," he said.
Before the forum, Bedden, Clark and Merrill toured district schools and met with staff. On Wednesday, the candidates will meet with the Board of Education for a final interview.
The school board said Tuesday that it hopes to make a hiring decision next month. If that timetable pans out, the new superintendent would take office by August 1, one month later than the board initially planned.