Three finalists for Rappahannock schools superintendent

Board bypasses interview with popular high school official Jimmy Swindler

Of the original eight applicants to become the next Rappahannock County Schools Superintendent, the Rappahannock School Board has “narrowed the interview pool to three finalists.”

That word from Rappahannock County School Board Chairman John Wesley Mills, who made the announcement at Tuesday’s monthly board meeting.

“My hope is at the regular July meeting on the eleventh we’ll have a negotiated contract to sign with a new superintendent,” Mills told the Rappahannock News. “That would require the board to agree, in hope unanimously, on one of the three finalists.

“It also requires a successful negotiation with the top pick,” he stressed. “I’ve had things fall apart during negotiation before, and the board then meets to discuss next steps.”

But first the interview process for the three finalists, which now follows interviews with all eight candidates “handled privately as a series of closed session meetings.”

At Tuesday night’s board meeting, Mills followed policy in announcing that the board will be conducting “confidential interviews” with the three finalists “over the coming 15 days at a non-disclosed location and at unannounced dates and times.”

That said, a disappointed high school vice principal Jimmy Swindler, who is also director of facilities for the Rappahannock schools system, informed the Rappahannock News yesterday: “Unfortunately earlier in the day [Tuesday] I had received a letter from Chairman Mills informing me that although my application is still considered active I was not being given an interview.”

Swindler, recognized as a hands-on school official with deep roots in Rappahannock County, said: “I’ll keep soldiering on, albeit a little disappointed.”

Mills said Dr. Gary Blair, who reportedly did not apply to become the superintendent, “will need to continue into July as interim superintendent, and if we secure a new superintendent at the July meeting, then Dr. Blair will consult during the transition for the remainder of the month.”

Earlier, Mills told us that he is not taking the hiring of a new superintendent lightly, calling the process “a significant decision in the life of our school division.”

The opening for the top position in the school system resulted from the unexpected departure early this year of superintendent Donna Matthews, whose 5-year contract wasn’t set to expire until mid-2018. Before she publicly announced her departure, Matthews had accepted a position with the Virginia Department of Education in Richmond that began in March.

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About John McCaslin 84 Articles
John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at editor@rappnews.com.