Search ongoing for TPSD leader

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Representatives of the Mississippi School Board Association will spend the next few weeks combing through applications for Tupelo’s next school superintendent.
The deadline for candidates to apply for the job was Dec. 9. Mike Waldrop, president of the MSBA, declined last week to say how many candidates had applied or to speak in general terms about characteristics the applicants.
Waldrop said he first wanted to give that information to the Tupelo school board. He will make a report to the board at its Jan. 17 meeting, school board Vice President Eddie Prather said.
Tupelo’s school board hired the MSBA to conduct the search for its next leader after Randy Shaver received an early release from his contract in April. David Meadows has been serving as interim leader since then.
The MSBA will now interview nearly all of the candidates who submitted applications, Waldrop said. Those who don’t fit certain search criteria, such as those who aren’t able to get Mississippi teaching licenses or who lack principal or central office experience, will not be interviewed.
Those interviews will occur in early January, Waldrop said. Questions will be based on the profile Tupelo developed for the superintendent, and in-state candidates likely will be interviewed in person.
“We like to look at them and see their composure,” Waldrop said.
The organization also will check references and develop an academic profile on each Mississippi candidate. That profile will describe how that person’s school or school district has performed.
Using that information, the MSBA will provide the board with a full report on every candidate. After that, Waldrop said, his organization’s role in the search will lessen, but it won’t be complete until Tupelo has hired its next superintendent.
The school board will determine which, if any, of the applicants it wants to interview. If no candidates meet its expectations, it could restart the search.
The board has expressed a desire to have the next superintendent in place by the beginning of the 2012-13 school year.
A brochure advertising Tupelo’s superintendent opening called for “a dynamic leader with a proven track record of improving student achievement.” Other listed criteria called for an ability to work with diverse groups and to build consensus, communication skills and a strong background in school finance.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com