Kevin Harris

Kevin Harris, director of Human Resources for the Carroll County school system, is Floyd County’s new superintendent of schools.

The county’s school board named Harris Wednesday night after interviewing seven of 17 applicants for the job.

Harris replaces Terry Arbogast, who held the job for 18 years but retires early under a cloud over questions about his salary and widespread public debate over his lack of transparency with the board of supervisors.

Arbogast leaves his post September 30, three months earlier than his originally announced retirement date.  A recent survey by the school board found more than half of the respondents wanted a new superintendent who displayed “more honesty” in leadership of the county’s educational system.

School board member Linda King told The Roanoke Times that Harris has more than 30 years of experience in education and was the unanimous choice by the school board.

Arbogast was widely praised for many of his accomplishments as the county’s school system but his relationship with some members of the county board of supervisors turned acrimonious in his final months when questions arose over how much he was actually paid as the school chief.

In recent years, the school board budget submitted to the supervisors showed the superintendent’s salary at $98,000 a year when it was much more. Arbogast later said his salary was $118,000 a year but information obtained under a freedom of information request revealed the superintendent’s total compensation package was actually $168,000 annually and was drawn from several accounts within the school system.

Floyd County’s four-year contract with Harris shows an annual salary of $112,000. In addition, the school board will provide a car and pay up to $3,000 for moving expenses.

Harris is a graduate of Roanoke College and has masters degrees in exercise physiology and education leadership & policy studies plus a doctorate in curriculum & instruction from Virginia Tech.

In an interview earlier this year, Arbogast admitted to me that he intentionally kept his salary line item artificially low to avoid taking heat from teachers who had not received raises.

“It was a no-win situation,” he said.

In the end, it a “no-win” situation was exactly that for the long-time superintendent.