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Schools’ chief of staff steps down

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NASHVILLE — Former Superintendent Shelton Jefferies’ cabinet continued its exodus last week with Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools announcing the school board has accepted Chief of Staff Brian Miller’s resignation effective Sept. 10.

The system had announced Chief Information Officer Patricia Hollingsworth’s resignation shortly after Jefferies’ departure last month. Hollingsworth’s last day was Sept 9. Hollingsworth will be assuming a similar role at Durham Public Schools. Miller did not disclose his future plans.

Many members of the public as well as the school system have questioned the need for a chief of staff position with a base salary exceeding $100,000 in a system the size of Nash-Rocky Mount.

“The system is not growing, it is shrinking,” said one teacher who asked not to be identified. “He was here so Jefferies could stay in Huntersville and do nothing, I hope the board will make sure that doesn’t happen again because teachers and students paid the price for their last hire, and he was just awful to work for.”

Hollingsworth’s position has been posted and the school system is accepting resumes, but Interim Superintendent Del Burns indicated that the organization of that department is being revamped, leaving the future of that position in question.

The resignation was not mentioned during last week’s Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education meeting, though board members did meet in closed session afterwards.

Burns, in his first board meeting as interim superintendent, focused his time on requesting that the board implement a policy allowing the superintendent some flexibility concerning the school calendar should the need arise during the year to adjust it, especially in response to closings due to inclement weather, emergencies and acts of God.

“The superintendent has the authority to delay opening, close early or close school for the day, but not the authority to revise the calendar,” Burns told board members. “Waiting until the next meeting of the board for action could limit options and potentially cause confusion as to whether 10-month employees are to report or not on a day school is closed.”

Burns has been active in touring all the schools within the district, visiting each of them at least once during the first week of school, speaking not only with administrators but with teachers as well — a stark difference from the previous superintendent who, according to some educators, rarely visited schools.

“He is like a breath of fresh air,” said one teacher. “I wish he would just stay permanent, but I know he is retired. I hope they can find someone of his caliber — that would be amazing in our district.”

Burns is contracted to serve as interim superintendent through February while the system conducts a nationwide search for tis next top administrator.