Will Changes in OCS Leadership Bring Real Change?

The new board of the Orange County Schools was recently sworn into office. At their very first meeting, the three new board members joined with one of the standing members to vote out the old board chair and vice-chair. They were replaced by two newly-elected members, but the new chairs are far from new to Orange County Schools.

The new board chair is Steve Halkiotis, a former county commissioner and someone who spent his entire professional career in the Orange County Schools, working his way up from teacher to assistant superintendent. The new vice-chair is Tony McKnight, himself also a former OCS teacher.

These changes come less than a year after Pat Rhodes became the district’s superintendent, and like Halkiotis and McKnight he also has previous experience in Orange County.

So we have plenty of new leadership, but I’m wondering if they’ll take our district in any new directions. Can three leaders so tied to the district’s past bring innovative solutions to our contemporary challenges?

Last year’s school board spent most of the year struggling with a proposal to merge Hillsborough and Central Elementary Schools. That proposal never went through, and it’s unclear whether any real improvements to either school were made in the process. In my opinion, part of the reason we have three new school board members is that the community wanted board members who weren’t going to spend much more time on this issue.

As a co-chair of the district’s committee on Raising Achievement and Closing Gaps, I know that there are many other pressing issues facing the district. I hope the district’s leaders, whether new or old, will take seriously our committee’s recommendations for addressing institutionalized racism and improving the achievement of students of color.

OCS doesn’t need new leaders with old solutions. We need good leaders with real solutions. What kind of solutions are you hoping to see?



does anyone know if school board members in orange county are subject to a recall?

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