DENTON — The Caroline County Board of Education will not renew the contract of Superintendent Dr. Patricia Saelens when it expires on June 30, the board announced Monday night, Feb. 22.
As outlined in Maryland State Code, if renewal was to be offered, it had to be announced by March 1. Having no renewal to announce, there is no additional action for the board to take. The decision came after much consideration and review, the board said in a statement.
The board thanked Saelens for her leadership during the last four years and wished her well in her future professional endeavors. The board said it will continue working proactively with Saelens through the remainder of her contract with Caroline County Public Schools.
Details about the transition process and superintendent search will be shared as the plan is developed and interim candidates are identified and interviewed as CCPS prepares for the 2021-2022 academic year.
“As the superintendent search pursues, be assured that the Caroline County Board of Education is focused on the students, staff and community of Caroline County,” the statement concluded.
Saelens was a finalist for the superintendent position in 2015. The Talbot County native earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Salisbury University and her doctorate in leadership and innovation in 2007 from Wilmington University.
The first 14 years of her career were in Dorchester County Public Schools, as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and coordinator. After joining Caroline County Public Schools, Saelens worked as an administrator, coordinator and supervisor. Saelens was promoted to assistant superintendent in 2014. She said it was always her goal to someday lead a school district as superintendent.
During the interview process in 2015, Saelens said her vision for Caroline County Public Schools was to prepare students to demonstrate leadership, critical thinking, technological and financial literacy, adaptability and creativity.
“I want our students ready to compete globally,” Saelens said.
Saelens said she believed the school system’s biggest strength is its people.
“Caroline is a family,” she said. “Everyone here works really hard, and they’re all here for the right reasons.”
Its biggest weakness is a lack of resources, she said. That affects parents’ ability to equip their children to learn, and the county government’s ability to keep up with state-required funding.
“We use the county’s funding wisely, and stretch our dollars to make them go as far as possible,” Saelens said. “We take that responsibility very seriously.”
The school board selected John Ewald from the Laurel School District in Delaware as superintendent in July 2015, but Ewald resigned abruptly in December 2016, just a year and a half into his four-year contract, citing “personal reasons.”
The board appointed Saelens as interim superintendent and made the post official in an April 2017 announcement.
“As the board of education, one of our roles — if not our most important — is to hire good leadership for our school system,” said James Newcomb, board president, at that time. “The board saw how (Saelens) took charge and is thriving in this position.”
Saelens began her official four-year term July 1, 2017.