Bibb County school board members are getting ready to look for a new school superintendent, but some of them think the ideal candidate would be a familiar face.
The school system hasnt had a full superintendent since the board bought out Romain Dallemands contract in February. The board picked one of his lieutenants, Suzanne Griffin-Ziebart, to work as acting superintendent until Interim Superintendent Steve Smith came on board in June.
The school board is expected to discuss recruitment efforts during its meeting Thursday. Board members said theyd like to advertise for the position in the next few months and select someone by early spring.
Asked about the process, board members often referred to Smith or Dallemand when they described their ideal candidate.
Dr. Smith would be the ideal candidate, board member Jason Downey told The Telegraph. I would love to have him stay longer than he is currently intending to stay.
Downey said that before Smith, the system had superintendents who struggled to communicate with parents, faculty, staff and administrators.
For board member Tom Hudson, one of those previous superintendents is a model for what the system needs.
I was a very strong supporter of Dr. Dallemand, and I hope someone comes in with very similar qualities, Hudson said. He closed the achievement gap, and we need someone with those skills.
Hudson said the ideal superintendent would look for partnerships that would directly help students, such as mentoring programs and the Boys and Girls Clubs, as well as efforts to help address problems that families face. Most Bibb County children are born out of wedlock, and many of them are raised in single-parent homes. Hudson said efforts such as the Macon Promise Neighborhood can stabilize families and help parents help their children. Hudson said those partnerships can bolster Bibb Countys public education, which is one of the countys prime economic engines.
We have children who are learning in every school in every classroom in Bibb County, but the percentage needs to be higher. We need to increase the graduation rate, we need to decrease the dropout rate, we need to increase the number ready for college or technical school, Hudson said.
Board member Lester Miller said hes looking for an approachable person who can lead a team, with important experience.
Student achievement would be No. 1 with me, and then somebody thats got a history of good finances, he said.
He also sees Smith not as a model, but as the perfect choice.
Hes already let us know hes not available, but if I had my wish, itd be him, Miller said.
Reactivating the search
Board member Lynn Farmer agreed that Smith is excellent.
I wish hed stay, but I understand, she said of Smith, whod retired once as superintendent of the Lowndes County schools, then left a job at Valdosta State University to help the Bibb County school district.
Board President Wanda West declined to say what she wanted to see in a new superintendent, but she said the board would start working with the Georgia School Boards Association to reactivate the search at Thursdays meeting.
The other board members -- Sue Sipe, Ella Carter and Thelma Dillard -- could not be reached for comment.
The school board voted in March to hire the Georgia School Boards Association for $10,000 plus expenses to run the superintendent search. Hudson, the only person opposed then, said Friday that he still wanted to go with an outside search firm such as PROACT Search, which helped find Dallemand. Board members initially hoped to launch their search after the board finished a challenging budget process in the summer.
Several board members, however, said theyre looking for some similar things.
Experience in classroom
They said they want a team leader who has a track record of improving student achievement and financial management. Downey said he hopes the right candidate stands out.
I dont know if Superman exists, but were looking for the most super person who can run the system, he said. It might be Superwoman.
Some board members said theyre looking for experience that includes classroom teaching and work in similarly sized school systems.
Hudson said hes looking for someone who can think differently, pointing out how Dallemand brought Chinese language lessons to elementary schools. Such skills can help students learn other things better and prepare them to compete in the world, he said.
We have to be able to prepare them for an international level, not just a local level, Hudson said. We need somebody who thinks outside the box, because we cant keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect to get different results.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.