So, this happened yesterday:
Dr. Carol Todd, President
School Board of Sarasota County Florida
1960 Landings Blvd
Sarasota, FL 34231
Dear Dr. Todd and Members of the Board of Education,
It is with sadness that I am serving you notice today that I will resign my position as Superintendent of Schools effective June 30, 2007. I appreciate the fact that with your “meets expectations” vote on my evaluation, June 21, 2006, the board automatically extended my contract another year until June 30, 2008, but unfortunately, I must decline your offer. I intend to immediately begin a search for a new position.
The past several months have been unnecessarily tumultuous and have exacted a huge toll on my family and me. I have loved every part of my 24-year career as superintendent of schools until recently. I think it best for the school board, the school district and my profession, that I not elaborate any further.
The past few weeks have cemented my realization that while the work to create a NeXt Generation education system is essential, there are unimaginable roadblocks in Sarasota County that will continue to impede the transformation.
My passion to insure a NeXt Generation Education for our children is now even stronger than it was when we first met in October, 2003. Every single day, the research becomes clearer that this type of educational reform is necessary for our students to be successful in our changing world. I intend to offer that vision to another community or institution.
I will continue to work tirelessly on your 4 goals until June. Equally important to me is that your next superintendent has a very smooth transition period. I will do everything in my power to make sure that happens.
Thanks for the opportunity to work with the fine professional educators and support staff in this school district. I truly believe in them and their abilities. My sincere thanks, to all of our outstanding community partners, that have been so supportive of our efforts. I sincerely hope that the community believes that we have made a small difference in establishing the vision and elevating the discussion about the importance of transforming our schools.
Dr. Gary W. Norris, Superintendent
I’m still taking time to process the whole thing. I actually had a meeting at the district office toward the end of the day yesterday. Before I finished the 20-minute trip, I had two texts and an e-mail letting me know what had happened. Still, I didn’t have any concrete proof until I sat down in my meeting and everyone received a copy of the Superintendent’s resignation letter. Definitely a pallor to the spirit of all involved. ITC Wendy asked what I thought about things. My response:
You know that feeling people describe when they’re telling you the campfire story/urban legend about the guy who wakes up in a tub of ice water and his kidneys have been removed? That guy, that’s how I feel.
It’s true. All along, I’ve said Dr. Norris is a man of vision and the back-to-school meeting gave evidence he was recognizing the need to better communicate that vision. True, there is some value in the criticism that he wanted to do too much too quickly, but the responsibility for these past few years’ tumult cannot rest on his shoulders alone. Our district has proven itself to be a lumbering machine. So often do we hear cries of improvement, that we failed to act when the cries were real. Thinking critically is good. Living in a constant mode of criticism is not.
Tumult, tumult, tumult.