We have been fortunate over the years to have had some of the best minds in academics serving as superintendent of schools for the counties in our area. We still do.
By and large, they carefully weigh and render decisions based on what they believe is best for pupils, teachers and other staff members, with the funding and other resources available to them. Parents’ opinions are important but shouldn’t be their primary concern.
Superintendents are the recipients of both acclaim and criticism. It truly is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” position.
Troy Ravenscroft, the superintendent of public schools for Mineral County, West Virginia, made a decision a few days ago that raised the ire of some residents, announcing virtual learning for the week of Nov. 16-21. It wasn’t so much the announcement of exclusively remote instruction that ticked people off, but the cancellation of sports activities, including football playoff games set to kick off last Sunday at Keyser and Frankfort high schools.
On social media posts, Ravenscroft provided his rationale for raising county schools to “red” status under the Mountain State’s color-coded COVID-19 system for operation, without waiting for guidance from the state.
Mineral’s infection rate was nearly quadruple the top-of-the-spectrum “red” average and the positivity percentage was more than double the state average, he pointed out. His decision earned praise from the Mineral County Education Association, which expressed its “agreement and appreciation” for maintaining online lessons this week.
“We are grateful to Mr. Ravenscoft’s continued monitoring of the concerns of our educators, and his willingness to look beyond the clear manipulation of the state Department of Education reentry map, and the clear manipulation occurring by the state and the governor,” a statement from the MCEA read.
The superintendent took the negative comments in stride.
“Health and safety matter more than anything — if my only goal was to make people happy, I’d buy an ice cream truck,” he said in a post.
Ravenscroft isn’t some outsider trying to impose his will on an area with which he is not familiar. He is a home-grown leader, becoming superintendent in 2019 after Shawn Dilly accepted a position as deputy superintendent of instructional support in Jefferson County, West Virginia.
He’s a graduate of Keyser High School, selected for the job by the county board of education following a nationwide search.
Ravenscroft is not in the classroom, but still teaching, offering a lesson on how someone in a position of authority should conduct himself, regardless of the fallout.