The Bibb County school board agreed to conduct a 90-day superintendent search that means heavily interviewing community, parent and teacher stakeholders this month so that by July 2, there is an ideal superintendent profile built and possibly a new leader in place by Sept. 1.
“We are in trouble in Bibb. We need someone with a track record, who can turn things around,” board member Ella Carter said.
An honest leader with a terminal degree, with experience working in an urban school district who is ready to take on a challenge are key components needed to lead Bibb’s 24,500 student school district, board members said.
PROACT Search, an Illinois-based superintendent search firm was hired by the Bibb school board last month and had its first meeting with the school board Wednesday to kick off Bibb’s search. The board bought out former Superintendent Sharon Patterson’s contract earlier this year.
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She led the school district for a decade.
“You can’t get better until you admit you have a problem,” board president Gary Bechtel said. “The next leader who comes in must recognize Bibb’s problems” and want to move it forward.
Bibb has historically had lower test scores and a lack of trust among the community and school administration.
To engage the community and help build a profile for a new leader, one-on-one interviews with the mayor, college presidents, lawmakers, police chief or other leader types, and then 12-16 focus groups with Bibb’s community will be held between June 22 and July 2.
There will also be an online survey set up to ask the community to rate their top 10 qualities needed for Bibb’s superintendent.
“It gives you a beginning picture of what your superintendent should look like” to build a profile and start recruiting from, said Phil Hansen, the firm’s chief operational officer.
While he said the best time to find a larger pool of superintendent candidates is in August or January since most school leaders renew their contracts in July, he said the Bibb County school system should still draw plenty of interest.
“There are always individuals looking to advance their careers,” he said. “(Bibb) is a desirable district, a step up.”
Hansen said the firm uses a “three-pronged approach” to gather community stakeholder input to build an ideal candidate profile.
He said an online survey usually draws hundreds of responses. The second approach is individual interviews with community leaders. School districts that hired their firm previously asked that their city mayors or church alderman, among other leaders be interviewed, he said.
School board members agreed to submit a list to the firm next week of their key leader stakeholders that should be interviewed.
The third approach is engaging parents, teachers and the community through a dozen or more focus groups of no more than about 25 people in each session, Hansen said.
School board member Susan Middleton said the district wants to be transparent with the public throughout the process.
“We are striving to be transparent,” she said. “The board wants to know what the community thinks.”
The Bibb County school district superintendent position will be advertised in Education Week to CareerBuilder.com, among other sites.
Board members said ideally they would offer their next leader about $200,000 per year as a salary starting point. They are currently researching what superintendents in comparable sized districts in the Southeast earn.