Bartow County school board members are moving ahead with their search for a new superintendent.
The five board members met Wednesday night with Dr. Sandy Addis from King-Cooper and Associates, the firm handling the search, to get an update on the progress that’s been made so far and to find out what their next step is.
Addis said the position has been posted “everywhere we normally post,” including websites of the search firm, the school system, the Georgia School Boards Association and the Georgia School Superintendents Association, and hard-copy announcements have been sent to all school districts in Georgia as well as all 16 Regional Educational Service Agencies.
“We’ve got the word out,” he said. “We’re very confident that the conversation is going on. People in Georgia and other places, we know, are well-aware that this search is going on.”
The application deadline is still 2½ weeks away — Jan. 29 — but as of Wednesday, the search firm had received six applications, four from Georgia, including Bartow County, and two from other states, Addis said, adding he was expecting at least two more within the next 24 to 48 hours.
“We find quite commonly that the vast majority of applications are received during the last few days of the application window,” he said. “People talk about it; they learn about it; they research the system then they begin to prepare their materials. These people that apply for these jobs put a lot of time in it, for the most part. They’re very careful about it.”
So far, the applications have come from sitting principals and superintendents, assistant superintendents and people with superintendent experience, he added.
The firm has had a lot of potential candidates calling or emailing to ask questions about the position, Addis said.
“We know from the calls, and we know from the applications we’ve received so far, that the word is out well outside of Georgia,” he said.
Addis said he didn’t know how many applications to expect, but Madison County’s superintendent search closed last week with 29 applications.
“That’s pretty typical,” he said. “The number is not so important. It’s who you got. The number is good. It’s good to get a lot of applications to choose from, but more importantly, we want to get good applicants. We want to get people that you can make good choices from.”
He added the board could make a good choice from the applications that have already been received, but “the question becomes the best choice; the question becomes fit.”
“You’re picking, as I often say, the sixth team member,” he said. “You’re a team, and the superintendent’s part of that team, a critical part. I’d venture to say probably almost everybody we take an application from can do the job. It’s not a matter of ‘can do it’; it’s a matter of style. It’s a matter of high performance. It’s a matter of fit for both the school system and the community.”
Addis said once the deadline has passed, the firm will review the applications and check references and then group the applicants according to how closely they match what the board, staff and community are looking for in a superintendent.
“When we meet again, we’ll bring you those applications, and we’ll group them in three groups,” he said. “Not ‘good,’ ‘better,’ ‘best,’ but in groups being ‘closest match’ to what we think you said you wanted, ‘moderate match’ and ‘not-as-close’ a match. Now all of them will be good people, but it’s just a matter of match to what you’re looking for, both in qualifications and skills and style and fit.”
He later added that applications from internal candidates will be placed in a separate group.
The next step for the board is to craft two short surveys — one for school system employees, one for the community — that will allow these groups to have input into the selection process.
Next week, a survey will be emailed to all school system employees, and another survey that parents, students and community members can complete anonymously by Jan. 22 will be posted on the school system website, www.bartow.k12.ga.us.
Once the surveys are completed, the search firm will tabulate the results and send them to board members, who will use the information to create a profile of characteristics, qualifications and skills they want the next superintendent to have.
Addis also presented board members with a list of 40-plus potential interview questions and requested that each of them select the ones he or she would like to ask the candidates. They also could include any questions of their own that weren’t on the list.
“If I get that, then I will build a sample interview instrument,” he said. “I’ll send it to you. We’ll all review it and look at it, and before we start doing interviews, we can say, ‘OK, that’s the interview instrument we’ll use.’”
Board members are on track to start the interview process in February and hope to select Superintendent Dr. John Harper’s successor in March.