Two finalists named for Bibb superintendent post

acastillo@macon.comOctober 22, 2010 

Eight months after the Bibb County school board and Superintendent Sharon Patterson parted ways, the board has named two finalists to replace her.

School board President Gary Bechtel said the two finalists are James E. Benfield of North Carolina and Romain Dallemand of Minnesota. Neither finalist was in attendance at Thursday night’s meeting at Northeast High School.

Benfield currently serves as the superintendent of Yadkin County Schools in North Carolina, a job he has held since 2007.

Benfield also was superintendent of New Berlin Public Schools in Wisconsin for 15 years and also was the superintendent of Carteret County Schools and Polk County Schools in North Carolina during the 1980s and early 1990s.

Benfield holds a doctorate degree in education with a concentration in school administration and a certificate of advanced graduate studies from Virginia Tech, and a master’s degree in public school administration and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Appalachian State University.

Dallemand is superintendent of Rochester Public Schools in Rochester, Minn., and has been in that job since 2007.

Dallemand previously worked in Connecticut schools from 2002 to 2007. In that time, he worked as the assistant superintendent of Hartford Public Schools, the principal of Hartford Transitional Learning Academy, the director of pupil personnel in Torrington Public Schools and as an education consultant for New Haven Public Schools.

He also has professional experience in Miami, where he worked as an administrator, counselor and teacher, and in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he was a mental health therapist in private practice.

Dallemand holds a doctorate degree in educational leadership from Argosy University, a master’s degree in learning disabilities and emotional disorders from the University of Miami, another master’s degree in mental health counseling from Carlos Albizu University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from MidAmerica Nazarene University.

Both candidates will be in Macon this weekend. Each candidate will be interviewed for an hour and have the chance to get to know the community, Bechtel said. “It’s not as much us asking questions, but them asking questions of us,” he said.

The school board will then meet next week in executive session to discuss next steps in the hiring process, Bechtel said.

Under Georgia law, school districts must release the names of the final three superintendent candidates at least 14 days before the final vote or action is taken, as well as any materials used by the district to make that decision. Under that stipulation, the earliest the board could take a final vote would be Nov. 4.

“I’m enthusiastic about the quality of the individuals chosen and enthusiastic about what they will do for Bibb,” Bechtel said.

Biographies and resumes of both candidates are available online on the school district’s website.

The school system has been without a permanent superintendent since February, when Patterson was let out of her contract 17 months early amid a state ethics investigation.

The board hired Proact Search, an Illinois-based search firm, to start a nationwide superintendent search. Proact provided Bibb County the names of 173 applicants, which was initially narrowed to 14 finalists. That number was trimmed to four in recent weeks and then to two on Thursday.

To contact Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.

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