By Rodger Digilio
Alexandria’s interim Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Bill Symons, left office last week as our new permanent Superintendent, Dr. Morton Sherman, arrived. Although Dr. Symons’ tenure in Alexandria was brief, it would be a mistake to believe that it was not important nor extremely helpful to the future of the school system.
Dr. Symons arrived at a time of great turmoil fueled by the chaotic departure of his predecessor. Within a month he had settled the system down and kept the focus of all employees on the task of educating our children. He did this through his consummate professionalism and a great deal of practical wisdom born of a long and successful career at managing the educational process. The result was continued progress in the test scores of our students.
His competence was immediately apparent in the budget adoption process which involved little of the drama seen in past years. He worked cooperatively with the school board and the city manager to protect the important elements.
Also he has handled the issue of personnel vacancies extremely well bringing in skilled interims to fill key vacancies while the machinery to find permanent new staff members could go forward in an orderly and professional fashion.
Dr. Symons was also able to help the school board. He involved them all and worked hard to educate them on their role and the issues in the system. When the first search for the permanent superintendent failed to produce an acceptable candidate, the board hung together and made a success of the new process despite the vocal doubts expressed by some citizens. Dr. Symons’ work clearly paid off here.
Perhaps Dr. Symons’ greatest contribution will be the information he was able to impart to his successor. Dr. Sherman’s tenure will easier and his start smoother because of the objective knowledge of the system that Bill Symons developed in his 7 months.
We join the community in wishing Dr. Symons well as he returns to his family and his search firm job. We hope that he will carry away fond memories of Alexandria as we retain our fond memories of him and the outstanding job he did for our children.