The Georgia School Boards Association mailed brochures nationwide Tuesday as the search begins for Bulloch County’s next superintendent of schools.
The association has assisted Bulloch County with two superintendent searches in the past 15 years. The most recent search, five years ago, led to the hiring of Dr. Lewis Holloway. He submitted his resignation in February, effective June 30, after accepting the superintendent’s job with the Starkville, Miss., schools system.
Also, the Bulloch County Board of Education has posted a community survey on its website. The survey is one way the board is seeking input on the qualities citizens think most important in a superintendent. The GSBA is assisting with the search and will rank the applications that come in, but the local board alone will narrow the list and ultimately choose the superintendent.
Board members also welcome citizens’ advice by phone or in person, said Mike Sparks, the school board’s vice chairman.
“During the whole process the community is welcome to contact us — all of our numbers are on the website — and express their opinions and concerns and what they think we need,” Sparks said. “As I tell my constituents, it’s not about me, it’s about our boys and girls and getting the best education we can for them, and with this it’s about getting the best superintendent we can.”
The brochure, mailed to people on the GSBA’s list of more than 700 potential applicants, as well as to colleges and universities with school leadership programs, already lists qualifications that the Bulloch County board believes are important.
“Preferred qualifications” include a doctoral degree and L-6 educator certification, successful experience as a superintendent or in private business, a solid work history, superior organizational skills, proven leadership ability, strong dedication to public education, ability to work with diverse community groups and sensitivity to the needs of students and personnel.
“Expectations” include superior knowledge in strategic planning, goal setting, community relations and team building.
A candidate “should also” have high moral and ethical standards and a vision to move the system forward; serve as a role model; possess special expertise in administration and personnel; be an effective public speaker; hold high expectations of students in academics, discipline and extracurricular involvement as well as high expectations of personnel in leadership, professional conduct and support for the vision of the school system.
Knowledge is also sought in overall teaching and learning, human resources, technology, financial management and facilities, according to the brochure.
The brochure and application are publicly accessible at www.gsba.com, where the Bulloch County search is listed as the only one now in the application stage. The site also includes a form that anyone can use to nominate a potential superintendent, who would then be notified of the nomination and asked to apply.
But the anonymous, eight-question community survey is on the local board site, www.bulloch.k12.ga.us. The first five questions let people rate the importance of a doctoral degree, previous experience as a superintendent or principal, teaching experience and experience in private business. The sixth and seventh questions allow respondents to check multiple qualifications and areas of expertise.
The final question is open-ended: “What other considerations or qualifications do you view as crucial in the selection of a superintendent?”
Board members, Sparks said, also want to hold a GSBA-moderated community forum to hear similar input. But Bill Sampson, the GSBA search consultant working with Bulloch County, said no forum has been scheduled or requested so far.
The Bulloch County board has agreed to pay the GSBA $8,000 plus travel expenses for conducting the nationwide search. Sampson briefed board members during their March 8 meeting.
A retired educator with 34 years experience, Sampson served as superintendent in Cook County and as a principal in and Lee and Crisp counties. For the past eight years, he has worked with the GSBA, and this will be his 35th search, he said in an interview this week.
The Georgia School Boards Association, whose membership now comprises all 180 Georgia school districts, has helped districts with superintendent searches since 1988.
The Bulloch County search will be the GSBA’s 235th, Sampson said. The association is currently assisting Bryan, Colquitt, Laurens and Jackson counties with searches, all of which have moved beyond advertising for applicants.
With Tuesday’s mailing, the GSBA is one week ahead of schedule for that element of the search, Sampson noted. But the rest of the school board’s published timeline remains valid, he said. The deadline for applications is May 4, with the GSBA slated to deliver them to the Board of Education the week of May 21-24.
Sampson will not be involved in the ranking of applicants, he said. But three other GSBA consultants with experience in personnel selection will sort them into three groups.
The first group will include candidates who meet all or most of the qualifications the board set out; the second, those who meet some but not all. Those meeting the fewest qualifications will occupy the third stack. Sampson will do detailed reference checks on all the applicants in the first group and will conduct a detailed check on any other applicants at the board’s request, he said.
“We don’t eliminate anybody,” Sampson said. “The board receives every application.”
At this point, the board has not set dates for interviews or the hiring decision.
Under Georgia’s Open Records Law, the board must release the names and documents of “as many as three” applicants under consideration at least 14 days prior to a hiring decision. This has been interpreted in different ways over the years, with some school boards releasing information on only two, or even just one, finalist. But news media organizations have protested.
“We recommend that they name three just so they don’t get in a fight with the Georgia Press Association,” Sampson said.