In June, Superintendent Newbold asked if I would be willing to meet with him. That meeting happened today, and we had a good conversation. We started by discussing how we had each arrived at our current positions.
Mr. Newbold started as a 5th/6th grade teacher and also taught 4th grade. He was asked to be a district specialist over reading and math, which he did for a few years. He already had a master's degree in curriculum, but he went back to school for an administration certificate. He returned to the classroom teaching 6th grade. He applied for principal positions for several years without receiving one. He eventually became a principal and was principal of South Jordan Elementary when it became the second year round school in the District. From there he became a district specialist over assessment and evaluation. That position changed to a director through District restructuring. All of this lasted 20 years. He is now starting his 15th year as Superintendent.
We also discussed the problems facing the district. We both acknowledged that there is a deep chasm of distrust and no confidence between employees and the Board/administration. We would both like to bridge that chasm, but we understand it may become worse before it becomes better. We also recognize that the groups we represent may not be as eager to trust each other. He thinks the Board needs to work on re-establishing relationships and trust with all the stakeholders. He also believes that the first thing the Board needs to do once there is more money is to compensate employees.
He stated he is not anti-JEA, and he believes JEA plays a good and necessary role within the District. He also believes we have more in common than not, but that we have different perspectives on how to achieve the same objectives.
I left the meeting better understanding Superintendent Newbold as a person and in his role as the superintendent. I hope this is the beginning of civilized, respectful dialogue between the District and JEA.