The Next Superintendent



Prediction: Those who think a national search for a superintendent for the unified Shelby County school system will find a superstar, rock star, wow candidate, knock-your-socks-off candidate, or an oh-my-God candidate are going to be disappointed.

Let's look at the record. Charlotte-Mecklenburg, a system with 140,000 students, just did a national search. One of the three finalists was a gentleman you may have heard of, one Kriner Cash. The winner was Heath Morrison, a white guy from Reno, Nevada. All those who think Mr. Morrison could have gotten the job in "unified" Memphis and Shelby County raise your hands.

The former superintendent in Charlotte was described by a local newspaper reporter as being something of a "rock star" when he took the job, but when Peter Gorman came to Memphis last year, he sounded like anything but a rock star. In fact, he cautioned against setting such unrealistic expectations, and told the Transition Planning Commission that one task in particular — closing schools — is impossible to do well.

The current superintendent in Nashville Davidson County, a pretty happening and prosperous place compared to Memphis and Shelby County, is Jesse Register, the former superintendent in Chattanooga and Hamilton County.

The last three national searches by MCS netted Gerry House, Carol Johnson, and Cash.

Finally, Cash got the Memphis job a few years ago over one Nick Gledich, a white guy who, like Cash, was also from Florida. Gledich is now the superintendent in Colorado Springs. Someone is definitely watching over this guy.

I don't know any more about the next superintendent than anyone else, but I think John Aitken should get serious consideration so long as we're still giving a unified system the old college try. If the burbs bolt, all bets are off. Bottom line: I don't see how a superintendent search can even begin until after the August 2 votes are counted. But it's not a bad idea to go ahead with the scheduled school board meeting next Monday and bring in Cash and Aitken to clarify their intentions.

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