North Carolina superintendent could provide new perspective as schools chief

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – An out-of-state candidate to replace out-going Indian River County School Superintendent Dr. Harry La Cava could provide a different perspective for the school district if selected.

“Sometimes unfamiliarity isn’t always a bad thing,” School Board Chair Matt McCain told his fellow School Board members during Monday morning’s interview of Dr. Anne Barrett, the superintendent for the Haywood County School District in North Carolina.

McCain said that, if she were selected to serve as Indian River County’s superintendent, she could come in without preconceptions.

“I know there are lots of things I don’t know about your school system,” Barrett said. “I am very curious about them.”

She told the School Board that is a very hard worker and very dedicated and not opposed to long days, late nights and early mornings.

Throughout the interview, Barrett told the board that she is unfamiliar with the federal desegregation order the Indian River County School District is under, as well as charter schools.

“This is a new experience for me,” she said of charters. Her district allows school choice, but there are currently no charter schools there. The North Carolina legislature has put a cap on the number of charters allowed in the state, she explained. That cap is currently set at 100, though the legislature is making movements to remove the cap.

“I’m very limited on my experience with charter schools,” Barrett said, adding that she sees them as another option for students.

If hired, Barrett told the board that she would review the five charters Indian River County currently has and assess the need for charters in the future.

She said she would work with the charter schools but not come into the district to get rid of them or change things.

The School Board also learned from Barrett that her current school district does not negotiate with its unions. The state legislature is responsible for handling salaries and other union issues.

However, Barrett said that she meets regularly with her district’s three unions and that she has a positive relationship with them.

McCain asked Barrett why she would want to come to Indian River County where she would face challenges she wouldn’t have in North Carolina.

“It sounded a lot better than here,” McCain said of North Carolina’s economic and budgetary outlook.

“This was a very hard decision,” Barrett said of choosing to leave her district and relocate elsewhere. She recalled coming to the area during Spring Break years ago and being impressed with the community and what it had to offer.

Given the various school options the district has, “that really drew me,” she said.

Barrett is the third candidate of six to be interviewed to replace La Cava, who retires at the end of June.

The Indian River County School Board will interview a fourth candidate Tuesday afternoon and the final two Thursday. There will be a special meeting Thursday at 7:30 p.m. for the School Board to discuss the six candidates.

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