The Bibb County school board officially received 23 applications for superintendent during a called meeting Wednesday.
Board members now will review the applications and decide when to begin interviewing candidates. Board members reviewed and discussed the candidates during a closed session, a legal requirement.
Of the 23 applicants (one applicant recently dropped out of the process), 17 are from Georgia. Most of the other applicants are from the Southeast, said Bill Sampson with the Georgia School Boards Association, the group leading the search.
The GSBA reviewed the applicants, checked their references and separated them into three tiers. The first group meets most or all of the school boards qualifications. The second group meets some of the qualifications, and the third tier meets the fewest number of qualifications.
The board decided Wednesday to tentatively meet again April 28 to review applications. Board members also discussed holding a planning session to map out their own goals for the school system.
We need to get a focus, board member Wanda West said.
West suggested identifying five goals for the new leader. She suggested one of the goals should be establishing trust between the superintendent and the board.
Board member Lynn Farmer agreed, saying the board needs to prioritize its concerns before beginning the interviews.
To be effective as a board, we have to know what our goals are as a board, she said. We need to be on the same page in terms of what our priorities are.
Regarding community involvement, some board members said its important to allow stakeholders to talk with the finalists. The Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, for example, has shown interest in having a conversation with the superintendent finalists, Farmer said.
Its our stakeholders who are the parents and guardians of our children, board member Tom Hudson said, and I think they need to be involved, too.
Thelma Dillard, the boards vice president, suggested the board members should consider comments the community made during a superintendent search forum in January.
That could be another way of including the public, she said. I want us to encompass those concerns.
Still, Sampson discussed the importance of properly managing public forums so it does not turn into a popularity contest, he said.
In the end, the decision is solely up to the school board, Sampson said.
Finding that perfect person may be impossible. But you want to find a person who meets most of (your) qualifications, Sampson said. This is about trust, beginning with you eight (members) and the superintendent you hire.
To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 744-4331.