Bibb BOE discusses superintendent qualifications

jmink@macon.comJanuary 21, 2014 

Experience in closing achievement gaps, team building skills and experience in leading school districts similar to Bibb County.

Those are a few qualifications the Bibb school board is looking for in the district’s next superintendent. Board members discussed Tuesday the qualifications that both the board and the community want, as they begin the search for the district’s next leader. If all goes as planned, the board will be interviewing candidates by about April. The board bought out former Superintendent Romain Dallemand’s contract in February 2013, and longtime educator Steve Smith is the interim superintendent.

“With some of the issues (Bibb school board members) have come up against in the past, it makes this search even more important,” said Bill Sampson, superintendent search leader with the Georgia School Boards Association.

Most board members agree that the ideal candidate should have experience as superintendent of a school system with demographics similar to Bibb County’s, and they prefer the candidate has experience as a teacher, principal or administrator. According to a community survey, 48 percent think previous experience as a superintendent should be mandatory, and 77 percent think teaching experience should be required. About 410 people took the survey: 42 percent were parents and about 45 percent were school system employees.

Board Vice President Thelma Dillard suggested that teaching experience should be a requirement.

“We more than ever need someone who understands our teachers and what their needs are,” she said, “because morale has been very, very low.”

Many board members also want to require the candidate to have a doctorate degree, especially because many Bibb County employees have doctorate or similar degrees, they said.

They also decided to open the search to candidates from across the nation, instead of limiting the search to regional candidates.

“Some of the best superintendents we’ve had came from” other parts of the country, board member Ella Carter said. “Those who brought experience from other states made a difference in this community, and this has nothing to do with the last superintendent. This has to do with the superintendents before his time.”

The Georgia School Boards Association will send a draft of the superintendent search brochure to the Bibb board, which is expected to finalize the brochure next week. Officials expect to open the application process around Feb. 1. It would close in mid-March.

Carter asked whether that time frame is too late in the school year and questioned whether the district would miss out on good candidates, who may decide to go to other districts by then.

Sampson assured the board this is an ideal timetable for a superintendent search, and the board is not obligated to rush into a decision. There are options for extending the search if necessary, he said.

“This is the most important decision you’re going to make this year,” he told them.

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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