Armstrong said he feels like the school board has lost faith that the district is moving in the right direction, and he pointed to new administrators hired as evidence of the board’s eagerness to move in an entirely new direction.
“It went on for a couple of months, and it basically became clear about a month ago that I needed to start looking elsewhere. So that’s what I’m doing,” he said.
Armstrong was hired by the school district in 2008 to succeed Jan Broughton, after Broughton accepted a position with Logan-Elm Schools near Circleville. Armstrong will continue to serve at Portsmouth throughout the remainder of his two-year contract — which expires July 31.
He said he could “see the writing on the wall” and said he “did not see a future (for himself) here at Portsmouth.
“I’m leaving on a positive note rather than get it to a situation where they’re not going to renew you. You kind of see the writing on the wall,” he said. “Even though they didn’t actually ask me to resign, but they implied there could be a problem down the road. So after discussions with the board I decided to resign.”
When asked what issues the school board may have had with his performance, Armstrong mentioned recent changes — such as dividing the elementary into two buildings with two principals, and eliminating 1.5 administrator positions at the high school.
“The thing is, all the things that we did, the board is saying, ‘Oh, no, I like that. I like that we’ve restructured the elementary.’ But I just encourage the board to have faith in their administrators and stay the course because things are starting to come up,” Armstrong said.
Portsmouth School Board President Clarence Parker said the board has not lost faith, and said it wasn’t one specific issue that led to the board’s request for Armstrong’s resignation, but simply their feeling that he wasn’t a good fit.
“Sometimes things work, and sometimes they don’t work. Sometimes there’s a good fit, and sometimes there isn’t. I think the board’s perspective is pretty much that Don is a good man and had some really good things going on, but just didn’t feel comfortable that it was a good fit for him, and for the district,” Parker said.
Parker said the district is in academic challenge, and it was their hopes that Armstrong could help turn them around.
“If anything, that probably is a larger part of it. There were a lot of changes made and we believe there were some good changes that were made, and we’ll probably continue in the same direction that we have been going the past couple of years. But we just didn’t see the kind of changes that we initially felt and put on the table that we needed to see and expected to see,” Parker said.
Armstrong said it takes time to make the kind of changes that the board wants to see.
“Hopefully, you’ll see over the next two or three years the test scores starting to come up as a result of what we have done now. That’s one thing. People get impatient. It takes three to five years to really turn things around when you really change the way things are,” Armstrong said.
Meanwhile, Armstrong said he already has applications in at four school districts — including Valley Local Schools, in Lucasville.
“I value the experience that I’ve had at Portsmouth. They knew they were kind of taking a chance. This was my first superintendency. I appreciate them giving me the two years that they have. I definitely do not want to go out with the idea that I hate these guys or that kind of thing. If they wanted me, then I’d be here,” he said.
During a regular meeting of the Portsmouth City School Board Thursday evening, the board voted to employ Lowell Howard, of South Central Ohio Educational Services Centers, to conduct a search for a new school superintendent. Howard and the SCOESC also are conducting the search for Valley’s new superintendent.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, or e-mail email@example.com.