Superintendent brings experience to office
samanthaEDWARDS editor in chief Dr. Herbert M. Berg has 35 years of experience as a superintendent. He knows a thing or two about pointing a school district in the right direction. When former Lexington/Richland District Five Superintendent, Scott AndersEn, resigned in mid-August, Berg was chosen as the district’s interim superintendent. “I retired the year before from Kershaw County, S.C., and when the board was looking for a superintendent they consulted with some residents here in the Lexington school district as well as some people in Columbia, and my name emerged as someone they had to talk to,” Berg said. Berg grew up in Seattle, Wash. He earned his Ph.D. at Washington State University,and worked as a chemistry teacher and high school principal until he was appointed superintendent. “The superintendent’s job is very complex,” Berg said. “It’s not a single track job; it’s more of a circle, and you have to be able to oversee the teaching by teachers and learning by students. You have to be in charge of and stay on top of the public relations—that’s communicating what the district is doing, and what its needs are. You have to oversee the finances of the district and see to it that there is enough money to run the system and that the money is being well spent.” He must also oversee the maintenance of all of the district’s facilities and staff members. “We’ve got 2500 employees, and you have to see to it that good people are hired,” Berg said. Berg said he plans to serve as interim superintendent until June 30, or until the district can find a permanent and long-term superintendent. As interim superintendent, he has several issues that he plans to tackle. First he says he wants to bring stability to the district as well as lower the profile of the district. “If I do a good job of stabilizing things and getting things in order, then the job of recruiting and finding a superintendent will be a lot easier,” Berg said. Second, he says he wants to educate the community about the district’s facility needs. “Dr. AndersEn took the lead on promoting and speaking out on the bond, and he was very much the front person on that endeavor,” Berg said. “As an interim superintendent, I feel that role is more properly played and carried by people who have a stake in the matter. That’s kids, families, tax payers, and the people who live here. They’re the ones who have to make the decision on what kind of schools they have. So, I think it’s up to the community to decide what they want to do.” Berg expressed the desire to layout the consequences of passing or not passing the bond referendum to the community. “A vote ‘yes’ says that certain things will happen,” Berg said. “There will be remodeling, there will be new schools, the
district will go in a certain direction, and there are people who are in that camp. A ‘no’ vote sets the district off in a different direction, and there are clear consequences of that as well.... I don’t ask people to vote one way or the other, but I try to layout what will happen when you vote ‘no.’” Berg said that though the quality of education has been maintained for the most part within the district, the maintenance of the facilities has fallen behind. “They’re great, great schools. That does not surprise me,” Berg said. “I am surprised at the condition of the facilities. They have not been maintained as well as the education program has been maintained, and that’s why this referendum has been proposed.” He says that when facilities do not meet the needs of the community, some students’ educations suffer. “See, it’s not fair to kids to go to a 2100 kid high school. It’s simply not fair,” Berg said. “You know, some do well, and many do great, but when you’re in a factory of that size, kids get lost. Unfortunately what happens is that the kids that get lost are the unmotivated, undirected [students that] come from less advantaged families. In a smaller school with a smaller population, the needs of those kids get met, and they don’t get lost.” Berg’s message for the community stresses the importance of the bond referendum that will be voted on in November. “You have had a great school system, but you need to take care of it,” Berg said.
Published on Oct 31, 2008