White inks 20-month deal

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, November 20, 2012

WINDSOR – The new superintendent of Bertie County Schools has signed a 20-month contract.

Elaine White was named Superintendent of Schools Nov. 9 and has signed a contract that will keep her in that post until June 30, 2014. White had served as Interim Superintendent since the retirement of Dr. Debbie Harris-Rollins in July.

The contract calls for a slight adjustment in salary for White who was making $9,200 per month (the equivalent of $110,400 over 12 months) as interim superintendent. Her new salary is $120,000 per year. That is $5,000 less than what Harris-Rollins was paid annually.

Of the $120,000 in salary, the majority will come from the state of North Carolina who will pay $107,388. The local addition will be $12,612. The contract allows for White’s state salary to increase by the percentage of change adopted by the state for Central Office administrative pay raises.

Other expenditures by the school district for White include $2,000 annually for membership in professional and civic organizations, a cellular phone and a school system vehicle for job-related travel within Bertie County.

White is entitled to the same benefits provided to all other 12-month employees of the district, including annual leave and sick leave.

All benefits, memberships and provisions for a vehicle and phone are the same as was provided for previous superintendents.

The main difference for White’s superintendency is that she will be the first hired by Bertie County Schools under a recent state law which no longer requires a Superintendent Certificate.

According to G.S. 115c-271(a), the State Board of Education is allowed to establish rules and qualifications for election of a superintendent. At a minimum, the person must have been a principal in a North Carolina public school or shall have other leadership, management and administrative experience.

In White’s case, she has 21 years of experience as a principal in both Maryland and North Carolina.

“This experience is clearly relevant and sufficient to permit Elaine to serve as Superintendent,” School Board Attorney Rod Malone said.

For her part, White said she believes her nearly five decades of experience gave her the right set of skills to serve as superintendent of Bertie County Schools and that her experience is more relevant than that of a Chief Executive Officer of a business, who is allowed to serve under the new state guidelines.

“In the case of CEO’s, they are more about managing a business,” White said. “In my case, I have come up through the ranks in school. I started as a teacher in 1965 in a junior high school.”

From there, White literally held almost every position possible in a school district. She first moved to a department head in a large high school, and then served as a curriculum writer, assistant principal and principal in Maryland. She also taught adult education.

Following her move to North Carolina, White served as Principal of Southside High School in Chocowinity before moving to Bertie High School. She then served at the elementary, high school and alternative schools of the district.

“I have a total of 47 years of experience in education and I often tell people I’ve been in school for over 60 years,” White mused. “I ought to know something about operating schools.”

White has two master’s degrees, one in educational administration with a concentration in curriculum and supervision and the other in theology.

She said serving as a pastor’s wife for much of her life has also helped her get to know people and to learn to pull together a strong team.

“I’ve learned how to talk to people from all walks of life and learned how to make a team and pull them together,” White said. “I think my strength is my relationship with people.”

The new superintendent also said she believed in making sure the right people were around her.

“I know there are things I don’t know, so I find people who do know them,” she said. “I believe in putting good people around you because iron sharpens iron.”

She then talked about staff members throughout Central Office and the school who she believed would be invaluable in continuing the growth of Bertie County Schools.

“We’ll have a good team in place,” she said. “I feel confident about that. The system is ready to move forward.”