A former Appomattox County schools superintendent who credits the Air Force with giving him a firm grounding in management skills has been chosen by the Rappahannock County Board of Education to be the school system’s next superintendent.
“Over the past few months, the Board has been involved in many hours of interviews, selection and investigation that have led us to one finalist,” School Board Chairman J. Wesley Mills said in a statement Monday. “We have successfully negotiated with Dr. Alridge Boone and look forward to a great new era in the life of the Rappahannock County Public Schools under his leadership.”
Boone, reached Tuesday, said he was enthusiastic about the challenge, looked forward to getting to know the community and planned on being accessible — running an organization that emphasized good communication.
“Some people see themselves as being above it all,” he said. “I just don’t have time for things like that.”
Mills said the board chose Boone from among the six finalists they’d begun interviewing in January to replace Superintendent Robert Chappell, who retires in June.
“Major strengths we looked for, and found in Dr. Boone, were competency in the educational realm, first, and leadership qualities that were measurable, how you communicate, and how you lead.
“We also knew that whoever came here to fill this role at this time needed to be very strong in finance,” Mills said. “Seeing his history, and if you look at his degree path or even his military time, you’ll find that he’s very competent in management of budgets. That’s an easy thing to manage when things are going well, but when it’s time to prune and pinch, it takes a strategist that can manage all the complexities of the budget — making sure data is driving our decisions, and putting emphasis on the right areas, and that those decisions can be tracked.”
Mills said the board members, all of whom were involved in both interviewing and researching Boone’s background, found him to be “a very good communicator and . . . he’s a very principled man, a man of integrity.”
Boone’s tenure as superintendent in Appomattox County, which encompasses a school district roughly twice the size of Rappahannock’s, ended last summer — a year earlier than the three-year contract he’d signed with the school district — when he announced he would be leaving the position.
Mills said he and other Rappahannock board members spoke to school board members and others in Appomattox about Boone’s tenure there — which ended a month after his resignation announcement with the school board buying out the remaining year on his contract. “In the end,” Mills said, “I believe Dr. Boone took the high road. I think what you will find is the public in general adored the man, and the staff’s perspective was that they were very happy with him.”
Although Boone declined to talk about it, published accounts indicated that the differences that led to the breakup were philosophical and strategic, and were principally between the superintendent and several Appomattox school board members.
Boone said he looked forward to working in a somewhat smaller school district because “you have the opportunity to get familiar with the people in the community — to have the children know who you are. I think that’s very important. You have the opportunity to be in the schools quite often, without having so many schools that it becomes a chore.”
Boone said he also looked forward to learning more about Rappahannock schools’ successes. “With any new job, and certainly something as important to the community as the superintendent of schools, it’s really, really necessary for me to come and try to learn about the community and the school system before saying, ‘This is the way it’s going to be.’
“When you come down to it, Rappahannock is a very good school district, and hats off to the School Board and the superintendent, because that kind of excellence is difficult to maintain,” he said.
“Therein lies the challenge for me — to maintain the excellence of the past and move the school district along on the continuum and develop what I call 21st-century skills, to try to tweak programs and put in changes as neccessary so that our kids can compete in a very competitive global society.”