BEAUFORT — The County Board of Education approved a contract and other official documents Tuesday to begin the search for a new school superintendent.
Allison Schafer, legal counsel and director of policy with the N.C. School Boards Association, outlined the search process during the board’s meeting in the school system’s central office on Safrit Drive.
“The search usually takes about six months and we recommend about eight weeks of advertisement for the position,” Ms. Schafer said. “We think you will get good candidates and our job is to help you have a very objective process.”
By unanimous vote, the board hired the N.C. School Boards Association to conduct the search for a replacement for former Superintendent Mat Bottoms, who retired Dec. 31. The contract cost is $21,500, plus expenses.
The only BOE member not attending the meeting was Travis Day, who had other business obligations, according to board Chairman John McLean.
In a second vote, the board unanimously approved four documents associated with the search: the timeline, an advertisement for the vacancy, a list of questions they want the future superintendent to address and an application form. The cost for 60 days of advertisement for the position is $799.
The board approved Monday, March 2 as the deadline for candidates to turn in online applications. After a screening and interview process, Ms. Schafer said the goal is to announce the county’s new superintendent by Tuesday, May 19, with employment to begin Wednesday, July 1.
“This will give that person time to notify their employer and take care of their responsibilities before starting their new position,” she said.
She anticipates the board receiving 15 to 20 applications, “but it could be as high as 40.”
After initial screening, Ms. Schafer said she recommends the board interview about seven candidates, then narrow the list to three for further background checks and follow up interviews.
She also cautioned them to keep the process confidential.
“It’s important to respect the confidentiality of the process,” she said. “I would recommend scheduling the interviews away from the office at a site that will protect the confidentiality of the candidates.”
Ms. Schafer said as well as advertising the position, she planned to “talk up” the vacancy at a national Association of School Administrators meeting in February and an Aspiring Superintendents Conference she will attend later this month.
She took the board through a set of questions for candidates to address in the application document. Some of those related to things like instructional leadership, personnel and administration relations, fostering community relations and the use of technology and other innovative media to improve student performance.
Members also went through a list of short essay questions they want the candidates to answer. They narrowed that list to four questions, which addressed things like leadership style.
Board member Melissa Ehlers said she had talked with several principals on the phone about what they wanted to see in the new superintendent.
“I heard a theme. They wanted to hear about instructional leadership and stressed listening to administrators,” Ms. Ehlers said.
She and other board members, like Kathryn Chadwick, encouraged anyone wanting to comment about the qualities they want to see in the new superintendent to contact them.
Board Vice Chairman Clark Jenkins said he would like to involve the administration in the process.
Ms. Schafer said they could hold a forum to get input from administrators and the public. However, she cautioned that in order to abide by legal confidentiality matters, they could not be a part of the interview process.
“We’ve conducted public forums to discuss the characteristics of the new superintendent,” she said. “I would recommend you do that while you are advertising the position so you will have a list of questions finalized by the time you start interviewing.”
As the search continues, Assistant Superintendent Richard Paylor is serving as interim superintendent, with Assistant Superintendent Blair Propst assisting Mr. Paylor in his duties.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.