Lancaster County schools will have a new superintendent beginning July 1, 2014.
On Monday, Sept. 9, the Lancaster County School Board announced they would not be renewing the contract for current Superintendent Dr. Daniel Lukich, which expires June 30 of next year.
The decision was the result of a closed meeting that School Board Chairman Alex Fleet said the board could not discuss as the matters pertained to personnel.
“That’s the law,” said Fleet. “Our attorney has told us we can’t…make any comment on the whole thing other than [the contract] will not be renewed.”
He added that the school will soon take up the process of interviewing and advertising for the superintendent position for the next school year.
“When we’ll make a selection I don’t know, but [the process] will begin very shortly,” said Fleet.
When questioned about the school board’s decision in an email, Lukich declined to comment due to what he claimed to be the “intense political environment
between the county supervisors, The Rappahannock Record and the school board.”
Lukich added he advised the principals of Lancaster County Public Schools (LCPS) to take the same position.
“There is a board election coming up in November that should decide the future direction of the county educationally, and I would not want to effect that [sic] in any way,” Lukich wrote.
Ernest Palin, Lancaster Primary School Principal and Dist. 2 Supervisor declined to share his reaction to the school board’s decision. He did say that he did not foresee any major changes to the school system following the termination of Lukich’s contract.
“Whatever superintendent they hire will come in and whatever needs to be done, the school system will continue to run,” said Palin. “It might run a little differently. When you get a new leader, they think different ways.”
Dist. 3 Supervisor Jason Bellows, who is also a science teacher at Lancaster Hugh School (LHS), said Lukich not returning to LCPS as the superintendent would be a “good thing” for the school division.
“We can look forward to new and better leadership and hopefully somebody who has a better style and is a better fit for this community,” said Bellows, adding that Lukich’s performance “has just been a disaster.”
“There are numerous things…his violation of policy, breaking the law…the school performance has steadily declined under him,” said Bellows. “He’s really survived longer than I would have ever suspected based on a lot of things that have transpired.”
Bellows cited issues with Lukich having school employees work without a contract in July and the first part of August in his first year as superintendent.
“He did the exact same thing this year, and he was told the year before that was illegal and he couldn’t do it,” said Bellows, adding that Lukich had allegedly extended remaining budget funds without the school board’s approval.
“He’s definitely been very controversial, and he of course never takes ownership or responsibility for anything,” said Bellows. “It’s always somebody else’s fault, and mostly [he says it’s] bad reporting or that the board of supervisors’ funding is inadequate.
“It just seems like he’s more into playing political games and what’s best for his interests instead of looking out for what’s really best for the students of Lancaster,” Bellows added, saying that he believed the school board chose not to renew Lukich’s contract because he believes the majority of the community is against the current leadership.
Since taking over in July 2011 as superintendent, Lukich has constantly come into conflict with the board of supervisors, particularly in relation to school funding.
In the two years he has been involved with the school budget process, the board slashed the budget both times, reducing it from $15,242,224 in fiscal year (FY) 2012 to $15 million in FY 2013 and then to $14,834,118 in FY 2014.
While supervisors have continuously shared their concerns over how school funds have been spent and allocated, Lukich in turn questioned their decisions regarding school funding in letters to school employees, including one sent in August where he claimed they provided “no rationale or reason” for their cuts.