WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Dr. Charles Foust has been named the new superintendent for New Hanover County Schools following a special meeting by the board of education Friday morning.
Foust currently is the superintendent of schools for Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, a position he’s held since August 2018.
Foust, whose annual salary will be $225,000, will take office on Sept. 1.
“The members of the New Hanover County Board of Education unanimously and enthusiastically support Dr. Foust’s selection as our new superintendent,” says Board Chair Lisa Estep. “We are certain that Dr. Foust’s energy, aggressive goal-setting, and experience with school turnaround will lead our high-achieving school system to even higher achievement. His demonstrated commitment to equity, communication, and transparency made his selection a strong choice for our schools and our community right now.”
Prior to taking his current position with Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, Foust served as the chief school performance officer for Union County Public Schools in Monroe, N.C., and as an assistant superintendent, school support officer, and principal for the Houston Independent School District in Houston, Texas. He also previously served as a principal, assistant principal, and curriculum facilitator for the Guilford County Schools in Greensboro. Foust started his public education career as a fourth-grade teacher in Guilford County.
“Thank you to the New Hanover County Board of Education in this new partnership,” said Dr. Foust. “What an honor to be entrusted as the next district leader of New Hanover County Schools. I sincerely believe all students have the ability to learn; our job is to create and offer a first-class education in a safe and inviting setting. My charge is to assist all employees in the development of our school district so that we move from a good district to a world-class educational facility. I’m thrilled to be at the helm at this critical moment for our school district, which I believe has the potential to be an exemplar of educational excellence and social impact.”
Dr. Del Burns has served as the interim superintendent since late February.
The previous superintendent, Tim Markely, turned in his resignation to the New Hanover County Board of Education on Feb. 7.
“The board believes that separating from Dr. Markley is the best solution to move this system forward,” said Estep in a statement following Markley’s decision.
Markley resigned without directly addressing the sex abuse scandal that has embroiled the school district, throughout which many people have called for his removal. He received $195,000 in severance and $32,966.66 in benefits.
Foust is a self-described ‘die-hard education fan.’
He said he believes the biggest threat COVID-19 poses to public education is inequity.
“What happens is not all students have a parent who can actually teach them how to do reading, how to do math, how to do science, and of course when you throw on top of it the socio-economic inequities..... some having devices, technological devices and then how to use those devices, or those parents who ‘I have a job and I have to work and I can’t give you the attention that’s needed’ so, all those in-equities,” he said.
Board member Stefanie Adams hopes Foust will bring unity to the district.
“You can see Dr. Foust’s energy, his positivity,” she said. “People are drawn to him and that’s what we need. We need someone who’s going to own it if there’s mistakes, celebrate when there’s wins and we’re just very excited to move forward.”
As the father of two daughters in middle and high school, Foust says he fully understands the position of parents.
He wants to see New Hanover County become one of the top five districts in the state.
“I feel like when you have that accountability, when you set that metric, it forces you to meet it,” said board member Nelson Beaulieu. It gives you a direction and I feel like the district really needed to have that direction from the top.”
One of his immediate goals and challenge to schools is to get all students reading on grade level. “Let’s just start there,” he said.