Tupelo Schools seeking chief operating officer

By Chris Kieffer / NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo Public School District is advertising for a chief operating officer who would rank on the same level as the district’s two assistant superintendents.
Tupelo Superintendent Randy Shaver said he is looking for someone who can “bring a private-sector perspective” to the district. The successful candidate would not need to have a background in education.
The district has budgeted around $115,000 for the position and would not need any added money to fund it, Shaver said. The position would essentially fill that of Assistant Superintendent George Noflin, who retired in June.
The district had three assistant superintendents for several years. Now it has two, including Deputy Superintendent Diana Ezell.
The district’s chief operating officer would supervise its non-instructional departments, such as operations, human resources, Hancock Learning Center, finance, technology and communications.
He or she also would help manage many of the district’s day-to-day operations.
“I can plan a day weeks in advance, and I come in and it has changed by 8 o’clock,” Shaver said. “I really need someone who is the final authority when it comes to those type of decisions to allow me to lead rather than manage.”
Shaver said he believes that the most important job of a superintendent is to “lead by example and be part of research.”
“I don’t want to be completely hands-off, but there needs to be more time for me to learn about the best instructional practices, teach our people to do that and make sure they are being implemented,” Shaver said. “I’m not too good to do any job, but I need more time to do the job I was hired to do.”
The new chief operating officer would manage communication, meetings, correspondence and special projects for the superintendent and coordinate daily operations of the superintendent’s office, among other responsibilities.
Applicants must have a master’s degree, or the combination of 10-plus years of experience in a key leadership role, and an undergraduate degree. Previous experience as a chief executive officer, chief financial officer or chief operating officer is also desired.
The district has received seven applications thus far and will continue accepting applications until Sept. 15. Because it is an executive-level job, applicants will apply directly to Shaver, who will conduct interviews with key senior staff members.
Two or three candidates will be selected for additional interviews, and Shaver will make a final decision.
“It has to be someone I know that I can work closely with,” Shaver said.
Shaver said that he feels that bringing someone from outside the educational world could help broaden the district’s perspective.
“We need to begin to have a profit perspective with the profit being student achievement, and this position will help us do that,” Shaver said.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.