Herald-Whig View

School Board was wise to extend Webb's contract

Posted: Mar. 12, 2017 12:05 am

THE Quincy School Board has been so impressed with the performance of Roy Webb during his first 14 months on the job that it took the unprecedented step last week of extending the superintendent's contract to 2022.

It was an insightful decision by the School Board. Webb, during his short time in Quincy, has proved to be an effective chief executive who has earned widespread respect from the district's teachers and staff. His decision to remain here promises to end a revolving door and provide the district with the stability it has sorely lacked.

"The respect that we have for Roy as a superintendent and as a veteran is off the charts, and that's because of his actions," School Board President Sayeed Ali told The Herald-Whig. "He chooses to lead by example, and like a true leader, he puts the interest of our students and staff ahead of his."

We wholeheartedly concur.

Webb is the ninth superintendent the Quincy School District has employed since William Alberts stepped down in 1980 after serving 16 years -- not counting interims who filled in temporarily while searches were under way for permanent replacements -- and the sixth in the last 20 years.

Of the previous eight, only Myrl Shireman lasted more than five years, and he spent eight years on the job. By contrast, from 1903 until Alberts retired in 1980, the district had 10 superintendents, and seven of them lasted between six and 16 years.

Most recently, the Quincy job has either served as a steppingstone to higher-paying positions elsewhere for younger superintendents, or an abbreviated, final stop for those nearing retirement.

That turnover, a reflection of the high-stress nature of the job and a trend nationally of many professionals moving more frequently from one job to another, has meant the Quincy School District has continually been forced to change course.

With Webb, the School Board believes it has a respected, collaborative leader who can successfully guide the district through its transitions to five new K-5 elementary schools, and who can provide the steady financial leadership necessary as the state of Illinois continues to grapple with how to adequately fund education.

Clearly, Webb has been a positive, calming influence on the district.

As promised, he visited all 490 district classrooms during his first semester as superintendent. His congenial, down-to-earth manner has been appreciated by teachers, staff and community members.

"I want there to be a link between my office and the teacher or the custodian or the paraprofessional or the librarian," Webb said when he accepted the job in October 2015. "I want everybody to understand what direction this district is going and how we plan to get there because they may have a better way of doing it."

That Webb was hesitant to accept a multiyear contract when district employees are working on a one-year deal and will begin negotiation next month on a new contract was genuine. So was his stipulation that any raise he may receive during the life of his contract will equal the dollar amount of the lowest-paid full-time classroom teacher in the district.

The Quincy School Board has shown sound judgment in realizing Webb is a good fit for the district and for moving decisively to secure his long-term services. Stable, effective leadership will be critical for District 172 in the years ahead, the qualities Roy Webb has displayed so far.

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