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School board picks new superintendent

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NASHVILLE — A longtime education administrator has been hired to take the reins for Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools.

Steve Ellis, special assistant superintendent for Wilson County Schools, will start his new job March 1.

Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education member Dean Edwards of Bailey said Ellis is the best candidate for the job. Ellis bested 29 other applicants.

“He came out on top because he has an actual plan,” Edwards said. “The other candidates were abstract in their interview answers. Steve Ellis took on extra questions. He was confident and extremely knowledgeable.”

Ellis will earn $175,000 a year as superintendent. His employment contract guarantees his salary won’t decrease through the end of June 2023.

Ellis’ annual salary will be funded from three sources: $134,220 will come from state superintendent salary funds, $3,036 will be paid by state-approved doctoral supplements for superintendents and the remainder will come from local funding, according to the employment contract.

Edwards said Ellis appears to be a team player with a lot of experience improving low-performing schools.

“He had plans for the budget and measures for success,” Edwards said.

Leaders at Wilson County Schools say Nash County’s gain is Wilson’s loss.

“I wish him the best,” said Henry Mercer, the Wilson County Board of Education’s vice chairman.

Mercer said he hates to see Ellis go, and the school board will help him in any way he needs.

During his career as an educator, Ellis has worked as executive assistant for student services and as a middle and high school principal. He got his start in public education as a social studies teacher.

“I am looking forward to getting started. I also would like to thank the school board for this opportunity. My goal is to be a part of the change in molding the Nash-Rocky Mount schools into one of the highest performing school districts in the state,” Ellis said in a press release last week.

The Nash-Rocky Mount school board felt Ellis’ experience, leadership and dedication to students would best serve students, staff and the community, district spokeswoman Christine Catalano said.

“The board is confident that Dr. Ellis will lead the school system to even higher achievement,” Catalano said.

Ellis will receive $600 per month in travel pay. The school board will also pay Ellis’ family health insurance premium and provide a cellphone, tablet and laptop.

Ellis will be able to keep his position as an adjunct professor at Barton College in Wilson.

Ellis will have to move to Nash County, according to the contract. He’s replacing a superintendent who owned a home near Charlotte and divided his time between there and Rocky Mount.

If his employment is terminated, Ellis will receive the remainder of his contract salary or 18 months of pay, whichever is less.

Ellis earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Barton College, a master’s in educational administration from East Carolina University and a doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Ellis is married with four sons and two grandchildren.

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