Rampant discipline problems in Bibb County schools and a top-heavy administration are among the challenges plaguing the school system, speakers said Wednesday during the first public meeting to gather input in hiring a new superintendent.
About 25 people took turns stepping up to a microphone in Howard High School’s auditorium Wednesday morning to give their opinions about the problems facing Bibb’s public school system, as well as its strengths, and the kind of person needed to be a strong leader.
“There is a lack of control in school classrooms,” resident Rob Danner said. “My suggestion for a school superintendent is to get a Marine Corps drill instructor who is 250 pounds, very smart and who believes that each child can learn ... and let him bring 100 drill instructors with him.”
The Bibb County school board hired a national search firm, PROACT, for $21,000, plus travel expenses, to compile a list of quality leaders interested in turning around Bibb’s school district.
In all, 17 meetings will be held across the community — three open to the public and the others by invitation only.
Southwest High School also hosted a meeting Wednesday night, and another session is slated for Rutland Middle and High School at 3:30 p.m. today.
Interviewers are making 40 phone calls to key government, business and civic group leaders for input, and an online survey has already drawn 467 responses, said Phil Hansen, chief operating officer for PROACT.
“The (board) needs to know what the community wants in a superintendent, and these give them a good overview,” Hansen said. “We will probably talk to more than 1,000 people in this process. I’m confident what we give the board will reflect the community at large.”
Audrey Manson, who has a child enrolled at Carter Elementary School, wants Bibb County to hire a superintendent who has worked his or her way up in an urban school system. That, Manson said, would ensure that the candidate understands the issues.
“We need someone who has a feel for a community such as Macon,” she said.
A superintendent profile will be built based on public feedback. That profile is scheduled for presentation to the school board July 12. If approved, the profile will then be used to advertise nationally, Hansen said.
“We expect to get 100 quality candidates,” he said. That number would be winnowed to about 20. Then about 10 candidates would be brought to Macon for one-on-one interviews with the school board.
When the district selects its top three finalists, those candidates’ names would become public.
The school system hopes to hire a new superintendent by early September.
“We need someone with visionary leadership and concern for the whole community and (who can) build a rapport with the board and current leadership,” said Cynthia Smith, whose children attend Howard High School and Springdale Elementary School. “A lot of times people can talk the talk but can’t walk the walk.”
The online survey can be found at www.bibbsuperintendent.com.
To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.