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Message from the Superintendent

Dear Parents and Guardians,

There has been a lot of discussion surrounding sexually explicit materials in Spotsylvania Public School libraries. Much of it has centered on whether sexually explicit material should be available to our students or how much sexually explicit material should be available to our students. As an advocate for you and your child, I am concerned that some participating in these discussions are not aware of the themes and intensity of the materials that include descriptions of violent deviant sex, such as rape and bestiality. 

It is disappointing that our community conversation about instructional materials shifted from promoting solid academics to debating the most degrading, vile material we will put in front of our children. Don’t we all want the best for them?

Virginia Code Section 22.1 - 208 says: “The entire scheme of instruction in the public schools shall emphasize moral education through lessons given by teachers and imparted by appropriate reading selections.” Respectfully, there is no moral sense or concern for right or wrong in the descriptions of rape, bestiality, and other sexually explicit content in the books that have been removed.

While critics may argue some of the removed books have received awards, it is clear that those award selection committees do not reflect the values of our community, nor do they have a stake in the best interests of Spotsylvania children.

Our actions, following school board policy and state law, empower parents to decide their children's access to such material. For those who wish to access sexually explicit materials, they remain conveniently located in public libraries, so it is inaccurate to label their removal from school libraries as a "ban." Descriptions like this may attract attention in the media or on social platforms, but they are false.

Providing exceptional academic instruction to our 24,000 students, primarily focusing on foundational subjects like English and Math, is our central mission at SCPS. We are committed to continually improving our students' learning experiences, increasing their knowledge, and improving their academic performance. We understand that maintaining an instructional environment centered on academics can be challenging in today's world, but our commitment to delivering quality instruction remains unwavering.

My commitment, and that of my staff, to our primary educational mission remains steadfast. Thank you for your hard work and support in helping us prepare our students for their best and brightest futures.

Best Regards,

Mark B. Taylor, J.D.
SCPS Superintendent

Attendance matters

Good morning,

At SCPS, we are committed to helping every student shape their brightest future. Each student’s school attendance is fundamental to their success.

SCPS is having a great school year so far. Keep up the good work, everyone!

Mark B. Taylor, J.D.
SCPS Superintendent

“High expectations unlock great futures!”

Important Message from the Superintendent

Great SCPS News to Celebrate!

Riverview Elementary Receives VDOE Highest Achievement Award
Riverview Elementary is one of only 48 schools meeting the Virginia Department of Education criteria to receive the Highest Achievement Award for the 2022-2023 year based on Riverview Elementary’s accreditation and testing results.  

Chancellor High School Receives VDOE Continuous Improvement Award
Chancellor High is one of the 93 schools in Virginia recognized by the Virginia Department of Education for its Continuous Improvement in the 2022-2023 year based on Chancellor High’s accreditation, testing results, and graduation rate. 

Our hardworking, dedicated instruction, support, and administration teams achieved these exemplary results. We laud their accomplishments!

We dedicate ourselves to continuous improvement as a division. We pursue excellence from the top down by coaching our principals at each educational level - Elementary, Middle, and high - to share their “best practices” with their fellow principals and professional colleagues across our division. Together, we are doing a great job preparing our students for their future!

Mark B. Taylor, J.D.
SCPS Superintendent

Important Message from the Superintendent

We are excited to present this encouraging report on teacher vacancies and staffing within our school division. 

Despite the broader challenge of statewide teacher shortages, we are proud to share that Spotsylvania County Public Schools is actively and successfully meeting those challenges. In a year when Virginia experienced an increase in teacher vacancies, with a state-wide rate of 4.8%, SCPS achieved a lower rate of 3.3%, demonstrating our commitment to providing a stable environment for our students. 

We aggressively address these vacancies, actively recruiting and onboarding teachers to fill critical roles. Our leadership team monitors enrollment trends and staffing requirements, ensuring every student receives a high-quality education. 

Our efforts to adhere to state-wide standards and ratios yield positive results. Our elementary and secondary classes are well within these parameters, promoting effective learning environments for our students. 

Additionally, we have addressed teacher compensation and contractual arrangements for those who go above and beyond their standard loads, emphasizing fair treatment and recognition of our dedicated educators. We are also working diligently to reduce the number of online classes due to staffing vacancies, ensuring a more seamless learning experience for our students. 

While we acknowledge the challenges posed by the teacher shortage, it is also heartening to note that nationwide teacher turnover may not be as significant as initially thought. We are committed to providing comprehensive support and resources to retain our exceptional teaching staff. We will continue to adapt and innovate to ensure that Spotsylvania County Public Schools remains a place of exceptional learning and growth. 

Thank you for your unwavering support, and together, we will overcome these teacher shortage challenges and continue to provide outstanding education to our students. 


Mark B. Taylor, J.D. 
SCPS Superintendent

Summary of Enrollment and Staffing Levels 

Virginia remains in the throes of a severe teacher shortage. As reported in the Richmond Times Dispatch and elsewhere, the Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) released a new report on September 12 analyzing our state’s K-12 teacher pipeline. Virginia is facing an unusually large teacher shortage this year, with 4,300 teacher vacancies across our Commonwealth at the beginning of this year. That 4,300 is 700 more vacant teacher positions than Virginia had at the same time last year. These raw vacancy numbers indicate that Virginia has a current statewide teacher vacancy rate of 4.8% this year, up from 3.9% last year. (It is also reported that before Covid, Virginia’s statewide teacher vacancy rate had “hovered around 1% for years.”) 

Teacher vacancy rates vary significantly by school division across Virginia. According to JLARC: “The Danville City school division had the highest vacancy rate at 40%, followed by Charles City County at 22%. In the Richmond region, Richmond Public Schools had an 8% vacancy rate at the start of this school year, while Chesterfield County had a 6% vacancy rate, Henrico County had a 5% vacancy rate, and Hanover County had a 1% vacancy rate. Eight of Virginia’s 132 divisions had no vacancies at the start of the school year.” 

The current vacancy rate for licensed teacher positions at SCPS is 3.3%. This rate will continue to change as we and other school divisions continue to actively recruit teachers. Our SCPS leadership team collaborates to monitor enrollment and staffing needs to provide high-quality instruction to all students in SCPS. We are also investing resources in programs and ideas that will strengthen our pipeline of licensed teachers moving forward to enhance student outcomes. 

As requested, we are providing information regarding vacancies and enrollment in our schools. We have provided two staffing reports showing the number of teaching positions at each school. The number of vacant teaching positions and the number of teaching positions filled with interim teachers can be found in this report, as well as the number of long-term subs or outside contractors at each location. 

All teachers (regular education, ESOL, and special education), librarians, and school counselors are included in the Board Vacancy Report. The SPED Vacancy Report only includes special education teaching positions. 

Interim teachers account for roughly 2.6% of our teaching positions. While our number of interim teachers has increased from 14 in 2022-2023 to 49 in 2023-2024, we are

excited about being able to hire, support, and retain these individuals who come with a background in education coursework and experience in classroom support roles. VDOE permits interim teachers to be classroom teachers because they are pursuing degrees in education. Our interim teachers are completing the requirements needed for their degree and licensure through VDOE while they work. Our interim teachers do not manage special education student cases. 

On our special education report, you will see the number of provisionally licensed teachers. Provisionally licensed teachers are considered properly endorsed by VDOE, as they have met the minimum qualifications for licensure. Provisionally licensed special education teachers are qualified to manage special education cases. 

In addition to the information regarding positions, we have provided two enrollment summary reports that capture information about student enrollment and the VA Standards of Quality. When monitoring enrollment and staffing, our staff refers to the Standards of Quality (SOQ) in the VA Code for our minimum requirements. Standard 2 of the Standards of Quality, in § 22.1-253.13:2(C) of the Code of Virginia, requires assigning instructional staff to maintain division-wide ratios that meet standards. 

At the elementary level, kindergarten classes with more than 24 students must be assigned a full-time paraeducator, and no kindergarten class may exceed 29 students. All of our kindergarten classes with more than 24 students are listed, and all listed classes are supported by a paraeducator. No kindergarten class exceeds 29 students. In Grades 1 - 3, no class may exceed 30 students, and in Grades 4 - 6, no class may exceed 35 students. We have no classes in Grades 1 - 6 exceeding these size parameters. 

At the secondary level, the standard states that the division-wide ratio should not exceed 24 to 1 in English classes in Grades 6 - 12. Our division-wide ratio is under 24 for English in Grades 6 - 12. However, we show a few English classes with more than 24 students. 

At the secondary level, we also refer to the VA Code. 8VAC20-131-240 (E-G) of the Code of Virginia, says: “A middle school classroom teacher's standard load shall be based on teaching no more than the instructional day minus one planning period per 

day or the equivalent with no more than 150 students or 25 class periods per week. If a middle school classroom teacher teaches more than 150 students or 25 class periods per week, an appropriate contractual arrangement and compensation shall be provided. The secondary classroom teacher's standard load shall be based on teaching no more than the instructional day minus one planning period per day or the equivalent with no

more than 150 students or 25 class periods per week. If a secondary school classroom teacher teaches more than a total of 150 students or 25 class periods per week, an appropriate contractual arrangement and compensation shall be provided. Middle or secondary school teachers shall teach no more than 150 students per week; however, physical education and music teachers may teach 200 students weekly. If a middle or secondary school physical education or music teacher teaches more than 200 students per week, an appropriate contractual arrangement and compensation shall be provided." 

The secondary summary shows the number of teachers receiving additional compensation for exceeding the standard load. This practice has been in place for several years, and only 4 blocks of extra load are currently assigned due to vacant teaching positions. We have also included the number of classes taught online due to a vacancy on the secondary report. Note that the number of classes taught online due to a vacancy will be reduced from 34 to 4 by October 9, because we will be on-boarding two new teachers. 

We remain focused on providing the highest quality instruction to our students, and we will continue to explore new ways to recruit licensed staff and support our educators. 

Also noteworthy this week is a story published by PBS on September 12th addressing the teacher shortage from a different angle. The PBS story states: “In reality, there is little evidence to suggest teacher turnover has increased nationwide or educators are leaving in droves.” 

PBS goes on to say: 

“Since well before the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have had difficulty recruiting enough teachers in some regions, particularly in parts of the South. Fields like special education and bilingual education also have been critically short on teachers nationwide. 

* * * 

While the nation lacks vacancy data in several states, national pain points are obvious. For starters, the pandemic kicked off the largest drop in education employment ever. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people employed in public schools dropped from almost 8.1 million in March 2020 to 7.3 million in May. 

Employment has grown back to 7.7 million since then, but that still leaves schools short around 360,000 positions.

“We’re still trying to dig out of that hole,” said Chad Aldeman, policy director at the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University. 

It’s unknown how many of those positions lost were teaching jobs, or other staff members like bus drivers — support positions that schools are having an especially hard time filling. A RAND survey of school leaders this year found that around three-fourths of school leaders say they are trying to hire more substitutes, 58% are trying to hire more bus drivers, and 43% are trying to hire more tutors. 

Still, the problems are not as tied to teachers quitting as many have suggested. Teacher surveys have indicated many considered leaving their jobs. They’re under pressure to keep kids safe from guns, catch them up academically, and deal with pandemic challenges with mental health and behavior.”


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Message from the Superintendent

SCPS SOL Results 2023

Dear SCPS Community,

We had a lot of success in high school reading, with most of our subgroups performing above the '18-'19 rates. Spotsylvania High School had an incredible improvement in math, and most of the others showed improvements from last year. Despite this improvement, we recognize there's still work to return to '18-'19 rates. All Spotsylvania high schools saw an increase in the reading pass rate among Black students compared to 2018-2019. Three of our five high schools posted higher reading pass rates among Hispanic students compared to 2018-2019. Four of our five high schools posted higher reading pass rates among special needs and economically disadvantaged students compared to 2018-2019.

Our elementary schools performed above the state average in reading and math more frequently than below. It is a real achievement. More than half of the elementary schools in Spotsylvania (11 of 17) had higher reading pass rates among their students with disabilities than the 2018-1019 reading pass rates.

There was also much improvement in middle school, particularly in math. However, we are still below the state middle school average pass rates in more subgroups than above. More than half of our middle schools (5 of 7) saw English learners achieve pass rates higher than those posted for 2018-2019. 

This analysis focuses on the reading and math SOL results, considering Governor Youngkin's focus on them in his remarks. Further examination will be conducted in the days to come. 

Spotsylvania County Public Schools 2022-2023 SOL results are promising overall. Our results are modestly positive, with many groups achieving results to celebrate.

Best Regards,
Mark B. Taylor, J.D.
SCPS Superintendent

Message from the Superintendent

We applaud the attorney general's decision. Upholding the fundamental rights of parents is a core value of our SCPS leadership.

Mark B. Taylor, J.D.
SCPS Superintendent

Message from the Superintendent

Take a listen at Superintendent Mark Taylor's live interview with News Talk 1230 WFVA:

Message from the Superintendent

Take a listen to Superintendent Mark Taylor's live interview on WMAL-FM 105.9!

Message from the Superintendent

The 2023-2024 academic year is off to a great start at SCPS!

Our HR team had a very successful recruiting year. I am happy to report that we have an average of only 2.2 vacancies in each of the 29 schools in our division. It’s a great accomplishment, but our recruitment efforts will continue. Our goal is zero vacancies. 

Our schools looked great for the first day of school! I visited every school last week on either Wednesday or Thursday. It was amazing to see so many happy faces and so much energy in our buildings. Thanks to the custodians and the maintenance staff for their hard work to make our buildings shine. Thanks also to our teachers, paras, administrators, and other staff for the care and preparation to make the beginning of this school year safe and successful. 

Transition Day (August 9) was the first day of school for kindergarten, sixth and ninth grade. It was an opportunity for students in these transition years to get to know their new building and new routines in a less busy and stressful mode. We received positive feedback from administrators and teachers. The transition day made the first day of school with all grades present run more smoothly. 

The academic year is off to a great start. We need to keep positive energy and dedication going strong all year long. We have much to share with our students and look forward to seeing them in school every day so they can take advantage of all that SCPS offers. We are excited to prepare our children for their best future. 

I look forward to seeing you in our schools!

Best to all, 

Mark B. Taylor, J.D. 

SCPS Superintendent

REMINDER: Student Handbook is Online

Dear Parents,

Don’t forget to check out the new student handbook accessible online through ParentVUE! You can now submit required documents, like the Student Code of Conduct and Technology Take-home Agreement, directly on the platform. Optional forms may be printed and returned to school. Should you prefer a physical copy of the student handbook, contact your school.

Along with the handbook, you’ll see a new feature that empowers you to say “yes” or “no” on whether your child will have access to sexually explicit material in school. It pertains mainly to our middle and high school students. With nearly 400,000 volumes in our school libraries, we want to be vigilant about protecting the wishes of all SCPS parents. Your yes-or-no answer will be stored in Destiny, our online library catalog, to assist librarians with carrying out the wishes of parents/guardians. 

We understand how important it is for you to have a say in your child's education and learning environment. We value your input and respect your choice about whether your child should have access to sexually explicit material. Your decisions will help guide policy and ensure we respect your concerns and preferences.

Thank you for taking the time to participate in this important decision-making process. 

Best regards,

Mark Taylor, J.D. 

SCPS Superintendent

Important Message from the Superintendent

Dear Parents,

We have some great news to share with you! The student handbook is now available online for you to view and download. 

Having the handbook online enables you to fill out all the required forms electronically through the ParentVUE portal, including the Student Code of Conduct, Technology Take-home Agreement, and more. You will also have access to optional forms like the free and reduced-priced lunch application, which you can print and return to your child's school if needed. That being said, we recognize that you may prefer a printed copy of the student handbook instead of accessing it online. Please contact your child's school if that is the case. 

We also want to highlight an important decision that requires your input. According to Virginia State law, parents should decide whether their child should have access to sexually explicit material in public schools. Spotsylvania County Public Schools agrees. Therefore, we have included a simple checkbox for you to indicate your preference with a simple yes or no, allowing us to respect your wishes while also considering future school policy.

SCPS believes parental involvement is crucial to creating a positive and effective educational experience for your child. We value your partnership and support in ensuring a happy, healthy, and productive school year.

Thank you for your continued support. We look forward to working together to provide the best educational opportunities for your child.

Best Regards,

Mark B. Taylor, J.D.

SCPS Superintendent

Important Message from the Superintendent

Dear SCPS Community,

I feel the need to address the following comment made at last Monday’s school board meeting (7/24). Following is a verbatim transcript of a comment made that evening by School Board Member Dawn Shelley:

“So [in regards to the] approval of the donations, I want the public to be aware that back in the May consent agenda, they took away a bunch of books. These were books like Junie B. Jones, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dog Man, and more . . . that they removed from the consent agenda, then they brought it back completely — actually just took away the consent agenda, but then in June they brought back a revised consent agenda without these children’s books, and they’re still not back. So those of you who think they’re just banning sexually explicit books, that’s a lie; they’re banning all books.

Ms. Shelley’s declaration that SPCS is “banning all books” is not true. The documentation provided with this email shows the books mentioned — Junie B. Jones, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dog Man, and others called into question — are available in our SCPS libraries. I want to assure you that these books have been, are, and will remain available.

Please do not be mistaken. SCPS is not “banning all books.”

In truth, SCPS is taking action consistent with local school board policy and Virginia law to ensure parents are aware of instructional materials containing sexually explicit content, and ensuring that parents are given the choice about whether those instructional materials containing sexually explicit content are put into the hands of their children.  

As we start the new school year, let us come together as a community to support one another and focus on a happy and productive year for our students and staff. Thank you for your attention, understanding, and ongoing support.

Mark B. Taylor, J.D.

SCPS Superintendent

Message from the Superintendent

Together, let's make the 2023-2024 school year safe, enjoyable, and productive!

We have carefully reviewed SCPS safety strategies and are actively exploring new safety technologies. However, we are mindful of our current fiscal year budget constraints that limit our ability to invest significantly in new technology.

It is crucial to recognize that safe learning communities are not simply purchased; they are built through positive relationships, a shared sense of community ownership, and open dialogue regarding behavior within our learning environments. We must remain open to listening to the concerns and observations of everyone involved.

To encourage a proactive approach to safety, our security team is in the process of setting up an anonymous text hotline. We strongly urge all students and staff to stay vigilant and report any safety issues or concerns using this new hotline. By ensuring we have complete information, we can conduct thorough analyses and address issues effectively.

It's important to acknowledge that relationships play a vital role in maintaining the safety of our learning communities. More often than not, school violence is perpetrated by individuals who feel alienated or isolated from the school community. By engaging with every student, we create a safer environment for everyone. No child should ever feel left out!

Student engagement along with strong student/staff relationships is also crucial for fostering open and positive lines of communication. We want all our students to feel comfortable sharing any concerns they may have regarding safety. Although the slogan may be antiquated, "see something - say something" remains an effective safety tool.

As summer continues, we hope you enjoy your well-deserved break. We eagerly anticipate a fantastic school year ahead!


Mark B. Taylor, J.D. 

SCPS Superintendent

Message from the Superintendent

Dear SCPS Family,

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer. We are assembling a great team and are looking forward to a safe, fun, and productive 2023-2024 school year. Please see the video below that highlights some of the great things Spotsylvania County Public Schools has to offer.


Mark B. Taylor, Esq.

SCPS Superintendent

Live with Superintendent Mark Taylor

Superintendent Mark Taylor was live on NEWSTALK 1230 WFVA this morning. Take a listen.

Message from the Superintendent

Dear SCPS Family,

I hope you are having a great summer! We are having an exciting time at SCPS as we look ahead to the upcoming school year. We are working hard to make the 2023-2024 year our best yet!

SCPS is getting more new local money for this upcoming year than we have in decades, and our “unadjusted” preliminary 2023 student test scores are showing improvement overall. Thanks to these encouraging results, we know we are heading in the right direction.

SCPS staff is working hard to prepare for August. In addition to improving safety, we are developing instructional pathways to enhance our vision and make our student experience more purposeful and rewarding. We are also working to clarify and amplify division-wide values and culture while reinforcing individual school spirit.

As always, our recruiting efforts continue in this present teacher shortage in Spotsylvania and across Virginia. Positions are available for anyone with a bachelor’s degree and a heart for kids. Bus drivers are also a regular seasonal need.

SCPS is working with community groups to assemble teams of volunteers to provide additional adult presence in our schools which will increase supervision, enhance safety, affirm students, and build positive morale.

If you have any concerns or questions about the upcoming school year, do not hesitate to reach out to our school administration. We are here to share accurate information and facilitate your participation.

Thank you for your ongoing support. We are looking forward to a successful academic year filled with growth and achievement.


Mark B. Taylor, Esq.

SCPS Superintendent

Come join us in Spotsy:

"I meant what I said. If you have a bachelor's degree and a heart for children, come join our winning team!"  Mark B. Taylor Esq. SCPS Superintendent

Superintendent Mark Taylor was live on NEWSTALK 105.9 WMAL this morning. Take a listen.

Message from the Superintendent

Our SCPS librarians, library paraeducators, building administrators, teaching and learning staff, and central administration have all worked very hard with great passion and dedication over many years to provide the best possible educational experience for Spotsylvania County children.

The dedicated members of our SCPS team have followed standard practices and guidance provided by the VDOE and other appropriate authorities. They have done very good work with very limited resources. I respect and appreciate our staff, and I find it regrettable that they and all of us are now facing a challenging dilemma.

Simply put, the dilemma is this: We don’t know the content of the books in our school libraries.

For many years, it has been standard and accepted practice to add materials to school library collections based only on brief summaries provided by external sources. This has been a widely accepted standard practice. Due to this practice, books have come into our school library collections that contain sexually explicit content.

For years, SCPS has also conflated or bundled together library materials and instructional materials. That has been our practice in the administration of our own policies. This practice is notably consistent with federal parameters.

We say that our North Star - our first imperative and first guiding principle – is that we shall provide a safe environment for children. The Commonwealth of Virginia has said that maintaining parental rights to know and parental choice to avoid sexually explicit materials is imperative.

It is right to say that under Virginia law, SCPS is required to give parents notice that their children may be exposed to sexually explicit content before such exposure occurs. But, SCPS has no practice and no history of notifying parents in advance of the sexually explicit content of books in our school libraries.

Our policies and practices must change. Institutionalization of Virginia’s legal definition of sexually explicit instructional material was a critical step, but it is only the first step. SCPS must move towards handling parental notifications about sexually explicit materials and parental opt-out (or opt-in) properly in our policy and in our practices.

The inclusion of sexually explicit content is not the only basis upon which materials may be contested. We must clarify, modernize and maintain other pathways for challenges in our policy.

SCPS must reconsider how materials come to be included in our school libraries. We must create a process whereby sexually explicit materials will be identified and parental notification and opt-in or opt-out will be provided before new items are added to our collections.

To these good ends, we will be bringing together a working group very soon to develop the next layer of improvements to our policy.

Mark B. Taylor Esq.

SCPS Superintendent

SCPS Budget Update

From the April 11 Board of Supervisors Meeting

The Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors told us last night that we will once again be afforded very limited resources for FY ‘24. We sincerely appreciate every local dollar that we receive, but we can’t hide our disappointment that the county’s funding for SCPS will be about $10 million below our stated and documented needs. SCPS leadership knows that our people are our greatest resource. All of our staff is critical to our public education mission. We will do all that we can for you! Thank you for all that you have done and will do to maximize our division’s success this school year. As this year’s “finish line” comes into view (now two half-days sooner than planned), I know you will keep running hard to the very end. Thank you for your best efforts for our kids!

A Well-Deserved Thank You

A big thank you to our instructional staff, building administrators, and support staff for everything that you are doing to make this year a positive experience for our SCPS students. It is all about the kids. It is a joy to see all of the positive energy in our schools!  Here’s to all of you in this last big push through the completion of testing and to the end of the school year.

Important Updates

From the April 10 School Board Meeting

The Spotsylvania County Public School Board held its April Regular Meeting on Monday, April 10, 2023. Here are some of the highlights from the meeting. 

  • A motion was made by board member Kirk Twigg to end the school year two days early for students on May 23, 2023. The Board unanimously supported the motion. View updated calendar here.

  • With a vote of 4-3 the Spotsylvania County Public School Board voted to end paycheck deduction for Spotsylvania Education Association (SEA). SEA is a county affiliate of the Virginia Education Association, a labor union. “Starting with their May paychecks, SEA members will see more of their own money in their paychecks as union dues will no longer be deducted," said Chief of Staff Jon Russell.

  • The school board also voted 4-3 to add greater accountability to future interim superintendent and superintendent contracts by having the school board attorney sign the contracts in addition to the chair.