Bibb, Houston searching for superintendents

jmink@macon.comFebruary 22, 2014 

They are two school systems with superintendent searches underway.

And they are taking two very different approaches.

The school districts in Bibb and Houston counties are looking for new superintendents, and both expect to hire a new leader this spring. Each school board is sticking to the same process it generally has used in the past: Houston County schools will search only within the school system, while Bibb County is looking nationwide for its top leader.

While they are different, both approaches can be effective, said Bill Sampson, a consultant with the Georgia School Boards Association.

“There’s not a right or wrong way to do it,” he said. “It’s just what the board feels is the best approach at any given time.”

The Bibb County board has stressed the importance of candidates who have experience with school systems that are similar to Bibb in size and demographics. In Georgia, that kind of experience can be hard to find. Therefore, it was important for board members to hold a nationwide search, Sampson said.

“I think they want to be able to honestly say to the public, ‘We’re looking as far and as wide as we can,’ ” he said.

During a meeting, board members discussed the advantages of hiring someone familiar with the school system. But many also said they didn’t want to miss any opportunities by limiting their search to local or even statewide candidates.

The board is looking for a superintendent after buying out former Superintendent Romain Dallemand’s contract in February 2013. Longtime educator Steve Smith is serving as interim superintendent and is scheduled to leave this summer. While the tenure of Dallemand -- who was hired from out of state after a national search -- was engulfed in controversy, other nationwide searches have resulted in successful leaders, officials said.

“Some of the best superintendents we’ve had” came from other parts of the country, board member Ella Carter said during a meeting. “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.”

In Houston County, the board generally has taken the opposite approach of strictly looking within the system. It’s not surprising board members would take the same approach this time around, Sampson said, because it has worked for Houston County schools in the past. Additionally, board members likely already have in-house candidates in mind, he said.

“The national approach is saying, ‘We don’t want to leave any stone unturned,’ ” Sampson said. “In Houston County they’re saying, ‘We feel like we’ve got one or more people in this system who can maintain the direction we’re going.’ ”

The board is confident it will find qualified candidates within the system, board Chairwoman Marianne Melnick said.

Board members are looking to replace Superintendent Robin Hines who, after four years leading the district, will retire at the end of May.

“My recommendations are that we stay within to hire the next superintendent. We have many capable people within our system,” Hines said. “It would be nice to have someone who is familiar with our instructional programs and understands how we are, operationally.”

The Houston board is planning to release this week a survey to principals, counselors and other administrators, asking them to pinpoint the qualifications they want in the next system leader. In Bibb County, the board garnered public opinion through forums and a community survey.

“This is the most important decision they’re going to make this year,” Sampson said.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service