By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – The Mississippi Board of Education hopes to name a state superintendent by late September or early October, though members concede it could be early 2014 before the new hire can be in place.
The board met Thursday via teleconference during its regular monthly meeting with the search firm it has hired to develop a timeline for selecting a leader for the state’s public school system.
Iowa-based Ray and Associates will lead a nationwide search.
“The most important thing is to get the right person for the job – someone who is an inspirational leader who can bring the state together for educational improvement,” said board member Howell Gage of Vicksburg. He conceded there would be benefits to hiring a Mississippian familiar with the state’s school systems and Legislature, but those issues are “secondary to finding the person with the right management skills, right leadership skills,” he said.
Lynn House, who was a deputy superintendent when Tom Burnham retired from the post in May 2012, is serving as the interim superintendent.
The board had earlier discussed having a new superintendent in place by September, but on Thursday conceded that will not happen.
Under the timeline agreed to Thursday, Ray and Associates will seek input from local superintendents, teacher groups, parent groups, political leaders and other education support groups in the coming days. The board will develop a profile of what it wants in a new superintendent by the end of May, and Ray and Associates will then advertise in national education publications.
The goal is to close the application process by the first of September and the board to interview top candidates, based at least in part on the recommendations of the search firm, the week of Sept. 16. The board reserved the option to conduct a second round of interviews, if needed, of the leading candidates the following week.
Soon after that, the board hopes to make an announcement of a new hire.
The maximum salary the board is allowed to pay to the state superintendent, based on state law, is $305,000 annually.
Ray and Associates is being paid $30,000, plus expenses, estimated to be about $8,650, to conduct the search.