The Richmond Register

Education

June 19, 2013

Madison County Schools - Committee begins reviewing applicants for new superintendent

MADISON COUNTY — The seven members of the county schools’ superintendent screening committee began reviewing applications Tuesday night in a special called meeting of the school board.

Superintendent Tommy Floyd announced in April he would be leaving the district at the end of the year. He will begin a new job July 1 as chief of staff for Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.

In May, the board hired superintendent search services consultant Mike Oder from the Kentucky School Board Association, who is guiding it through a five-step plan that could result in the announcement of a new superintendent as early as July 18.

The board began advertising for the position in May and has received 22 applications, one of which was incomplete; 19 are men, three are women; six are superintendents; eight are central office staff; five are principals; one is a member of an education organization; and two are retired or other.

Of the 22 applicants, 19 are from Kentucky and three are from out of state.

Also since May, a screening committee was selected.

The screening committee consists of two teachers, Stacy Brockman and Elaine Kresge, who were elected by teachers; one principal, David Gilliam of Madison Southern, who was elected by principals; two parents, Sara Smith and Angie Martin, who were elected by parent-teacher organization presidents; one board member, Becky Coyle, who was appointed by the chair; and one classified employee, Amy Carmichael, who elected by classified employees.

Oder gave the committee a packet of handouts outlining its responsibilities. However, he emphasized that ultimately final hiring of a superintendent is the school board’s responsibility.

“If the search goes well and the district hires a good superintendent, the credit may be shared between the board and the screening committee,” Oder read from one handout.

“However, if the search goes poorly and a poor superintendent is hired, the blame is entirely the board’s. The board is responsible for hiring the superintendent, and it is the board that the community should correctly hold accountable.”

The board must consider the recommendations of the screening committee, but it is not bound by them, he said.

“They (board members) don’t have to hire from your recommendations; they don’t even have to interview from your recommendations,” Oder said. “But they are to consider them.”

Oder read only one item off the screening committee’s list of responsibilities and “one of the most important items on the sheet,” he said.

“Adhere to the board’s directives regarding the security of applicant files and confidentiality of application information,” he read.

“I cannot stress confidentiality enough; it is one of the most important tenets of the whole process,” he said.

The screening committee will conduct 99 percent of its work in closed sessions, he said. “In those closed sessions, we’ve got to trust that what we say stays there so that we can be frank. If we can’t be frank and discuss the information we need to, then you’re not going to be able to do your job as well as it can be done.”

After board chair Mona Isaacs read the board’s charge to the screening committee (see sidebar), the board meeting was adjourned and the screening committee stayed behind to begin reviewing applications. It was instructed to create reference-check questions, applicant questions and on procedures for initial screening.

Although the committee must ask permission from the applicants to check any and all references, Oder said it should try to work “off the list” when checking references.

Board member Beth Brock, who was on the screening committee as a parent representative when Floyd was hired, said committee members previously were not permitted to speak with the candidates. Oder said phone interviews with applicants is now a part of the screening committee’s job.

At that point, “the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak,” he said. For example, when a reference is called, that person will likely tell others about being contacted as a reference.

If granted permission by the remaining candidates, the board would need to decide if it will release a list of the candidates to the press, he said.

The next two screening committee meetings, scheduled June 24 and July 1, will be in closed session.

A joint meeting is scheduled July 8 for the committee to present its recommendations to the board. Although the joint meeting is public, the recommendations will be presented in a closed session. During this time, the board is permitted to ask questions about any candidate that was not recommended.

The screening committee will have completed its responsibilities at the conclusion of that meeting and the board will take over the process, Oder said.

“(Hiring a superintendent) is most important thing we’re going to do this year — maybe for the next several years,” Isaacs said. “It’s very important for the kids at Madison County and the future of this county.”

Crystal Wylie can be reached at cwylie@ richmondregister.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.

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