Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Belcher announced his retirement last week, effective June 30, 2014. Belcher, who has held the district’s highest office since his appointment in 2009, has presided over a period of changes while ushering in a new era to Columbia.
Being a superintendent is a leadership position that it is important in deciding things such as school start times and the opening of new school buildings, like Battle High School. The superintendent meets with teachers, students and other CPS staff members to hear their opinions.
“There’s a lot of executive management of reporting to the [school] board on the realities that are going on in the school district and how we should fund them,” Dr. Belcher said. “We have to develop a budget that supports these issues. Changing boundaries, building new high schools, start times: all of those are in my area to manage.”
One of the major changes under Dr. Belcher’s five year management was the addition of Battle High School. Bringing a new high school in is hard enough, but on top of that there was the integration of the Freshmen into the high school system. Part of making this process more smooth was integrating members of the community when deciding on issues regarding BHS.
“I think it was really important that the public be involved and I respected that decision that he made to include them,” Civic Studies teacher Mike McGinty said. “I think it would have been remiss of him to not.”
Dr. Belcher will take a position on the faculty at the University of Missouri’s College of Education. CPS has begun the search for a new superintendent.
“[Choosing the new superintendent is] the Board of Education’s decision. Of course I’ve talked with them,” Dr. Belcher said, “so what normally will happen is Monday night they’ll meet, and they’ll say ‘How do we want to go about this election process.’”[pullquote align=”left”]“I think it was really important that the public be involved, and I respected that decision that he made to include them.”
-Mike McGinty[/pullquote]A superintendent’s decisions affect everyone within CPS. Teachers and students alike will be awaiting the announcement of the new superintendent. The superintendent has many people to cater to and can’t always please everyone, especially since time and money are limited entities.
“One of the things that I was discussing with one of my colleagues is [the future superintendent should be] making sure there is equity between the buildings,” said Marla Clowe, Algebra 2 Honors and Integrated Math 4 Honors teacher, “and I’d like him to be considerate and concerned about teachers and workloads and expectations across the district.”
As a leader Dr. Belcher was known for integrating the community into his decisions. He has student and teacher committees to discuss issues within the school district regularly. Just last Friday, Belcher met with Elementary teachers across the district to hear their ideas.
“[I would like the future superintendent to be] someone who is similar [to Belcher] in terms of the way in which they communicate,” McGinty said. “I thought he was out in front of most situations. I thought he was proactive and not as reactive as he could have been on some occasions. I thought he did lead for the most part, which is what I would like to see in our next superintendent.”
Although it is unknown at this point who will be elected by the Board of Education to be the next superintendent, when the decision has been made, a newsletter will be sent to teachers and educators to inform them of the change, much like Belcher’s retirement announcement letter.
By Sophie Whyte[vsw id=”84169255″ source=”vimeo” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]
By Renata Williams
What qualities should CPS look for in a superintendent?