Neither Mayor Jerry Abramson nor Mayor-elect Greg Fischer has any plans to try to influence the Jefferson County Board of Education’s search for a new superintendent of public schools.
Fischer and Abramson say they will respect the elected board’s autonomy. The mayor’s office has no power over the school board. But when reports of long bus rides and underperforming schools surfaced in the last few months, education became a larger issue in the mayor’s race. But Fischer says he will not try to control the board’s decision on a new superintendent. Abramson says he was surprised that the board decided not to renew Superintendent Sheldon Berman’s contract, but it’s not the mayor’s place to get involved in those decisions.
“You know, I believe in local elected officials making decisions locally. Half of the school board was just re-elected. They have a feel for the importance of school scores being moved up the ladder,” says Abramson. “I think it’s time for the community now to step up and support and assist in selecting the next school superintendent and work with the school board for the future.”
The board’s search for a new superintendent will begin next month. Berman’s contract expires at the end of June.
Berman issued the following statement Tuesday:
“Last night, the Jefferson County Board of Education decided to seek new leadership for the school district, effective July 1, 2011. While I am greatly disappointed by this action, I am now planning what steps I can take to most effectively serve our students and schools during the next seven months.
“Looking back, I am confident that we have accomplished a great deal in the past three and a half years, and we have made significant progress in many areas—including quality curriculum, school culture, and instructional innovations. We have moved the district in directions that are good for kids. My only regret is that I will not be part of the Jefferson County Public Schools in future years to carry these important initiatives to completion and to see the benefits they produce.
“I want to express to the community my sincere appreciation for the support you have extended for our many district initiatives. I urge you to continue playing an active role in helping students from every corner of Jefferson County become knowledgeable, empathetic, and productive citizens.”