Bertie hires new superintendent

Published 6:49 pm Thursday, March 17, 2011

WINDSOR – Bertie County has a new Superintendent of Schools.

Thursday afternoon, Dr. Debbie Harris-Rollins was named as the district’s top administrator on a split vote by the five-member board.

Dr. Harris-Rollins, an Assistant Superintendent in Hertford County, was selected on a 3-2 vote by the board, nine months following the suspension and eventual resignation of former schools’ chief Dr. Chip Zullinger.

Following a closed session, Board of Education Chairwoman Gloria Lee said the district had been looking for a superintendent with the help of the North Carolina School Board Association and she was ready to entertain a motion to hire the new leader.

Board member Emma Johnson made the motion to hire Dr. Harris-Rollins. She was supported in her motion by Lee and Vice Chair Pamela Chamblee. Board members Rickey Freeman and Alton Parker voted against hiring the new superintendent.

The board entered in a three-year contract with Dr. Harris-Rollins as superintendent, commencing next month, and ending June 30, 2014. The contract, however, stipulates that the board and Dr. Rollins wanted to enter a four-year contract, but were prevented from doing so by North Carolina General Statute 115C-271(b). They did agree, however, to consider a one-year extension of the contract at the July meeting, just three months into her term as superintendent.

Despite the split vote, Dr. Rollins said she was pleased to be the new superintendent in Bertie County and was looking forward to beginning her work.

“This evening I am both humbled and excited – humbled that the Board has placed their confidence in my leadership ability and excited to be able to truly settle in an area that I love, eastern North Carolina,” Dr. Harris-Rollins said. “Already I am impressed by the Board, and I look forward to meeting other district leadership, school-board personnel, the parents, the community – everyone – but especially the students.”

Dr. Harris-Rollins will come to Bertie County from neighboring Hertford County where she serves as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. Before that, she served as State Coordinator of Professional Learning for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

She has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Chowan University and North Carolina Wesleyan College and as a visiting Lecturer at East Carolina University.

Dr. Rollins has been an Exceptional Children Executive Director, Title I Director, Principal, Assistant Principal and teacher.

A graduate of Pitt County Public Schools, Dr. Harris-Rollins received four higher education degrees all from East Carolina University. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mental Retardation, a Master of Education in Mental Retardation and Specific Learning Disabilities, Educational Specialist Degree in Leadership Education and a Doctorate of Education in Leadership Education.

She is also a certified mediator and certified mentor.

Dr. Harris-Rollins said she plans a three-phase entry plan that will include listening, dialogue and planning and site visits.

In the first year of the contract, Dr. Harris-Rollins will receive an annual salary of $125,000. That will include $112,524 in state superintendent salary funds, $3,036 in state-approval doctoral supplement for the superintendent and $9,440 from local funds.

Her salary will improve annually by the percentage increase of the state-adopted Central Office administrative pay increases.

She will also receive $2,000 annually for membership in professional or civic organizations as well as a cellular telephone and a car for job-related travel. Dr. Harris-Rollins will also receive $2,500 annually for professional development.

Hertford County Schools’ Superintendent Dr. John Fahey said he was pleased to see Dr. Harris-Rollins have the opportunity.

“I’m very proud of her and wish her the very best,” Dr. Fahey said. “She did an excellent job in Hertford County and I’m sure she will in Bertie County.”