Superintendent Search 1/22/13

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Locals prove quite vocal over next superintendent

By Rupert Howell

“I think our new superintendent should care about all our kids—all our children and not be intimidated by those on the outside,” said one.

“We need someone who will raise the academic level and improve academic standings,” said another.

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Those words came from a group of about 30 South Panola School patrons who attended the last of three meetings held Thursday to get input for the Mississippi School Board Associations (MSBA) superintendent’s search.

The person hired for that job will probably be the highest paid public employee in the county. That person will also be in charge of the largest staff—larger than any of Panola County’s factories as well as entrusted with the district’s most prized possession, its children—approximately 3,500 of them.

Dr. E. Harold Fisher is the local consultant sent to South Panola by  the MSBA to do groundwork. His boss, MSBA Executive Director Dr. Michael Waldrop, will oversee the process and help narrow the candidate field for South Panola’s board of trustees.

“Our new superintendent should be accessible,” said one and another said, “That person should be a good communicator.”

Other than make school policy and approve budgets, one of the few requirements of a school trustee board is to hire a superintendent. The local board has sought the assistance of MSBA to form criteria and then advertise the position opening with hopes of having the best pool of applicants available from which to choose a new superintendent.

School trustees consciously decided to stay away from the meetings and also asked interim superintendent Mike Foster not to attend thinking that their absence would allow others an opportunity to speak freely and not be intimidated by the presence of administrators or other decision makers.

One meeting was held during the early afternoon for administrators, another later for teachers and the final meeting Thursday was held at 6 p.m. for citizens and patrons.

Several at the patron meeting mentioned that the new superintendent should promote fairness equally to all staff  or promote fairness to all students while leading those listening to believe that they thought some were getting special treatment. Fairness to all was a recurring trait the group promoted throughout the meeting.

“Have a good track record,” was an obvious trait that one suggested.

Dr. Fisher told the group that requiring a superintendent to live in the district and be part of the community was a good trait that no one had mentioned.

“It’s not a given,” he said.

“Require the superintendent to live in and be a part of the community,” was the next recommendation.

Fisher explained that recommendations from Thursday’s meetings would be compiled and given to the trustee board who would decide which of the traits to include in an informational brochure to be printed and distributed to those interested in applying for the job.

“Can we ask that the new superintendent be a Godly person?” asked one.

Fisher really didn’t  say yes or no.

But he smiled and wrote it down with the rest of the day’s suggestions.