Bertie Schools Superintendent search underway

Published 8:10 am Thursday, October 7, 2010

WINDSOR – The search has officially begun.

Tuesday night, the Bertie County Board of Education took several steps to start the process of searching for a new Superintendent of Schools.

The board hired the North Carolina School Boards Association to help administer the search, adopted a timeline, agreed to an application document and approved the advertisement.

The school district has been under the leadership of Interim Superintendent Dr. Will Crawford since August 2. That came after a drawn out process resulting in the resignation of former school chief Dr. Chip Zullinger.

Tthe board adopted a timetable that could have the next superintendent in place by May 7 of next year. The timetable also gives the board the opportunity to reject the first batch of applicants, re-advertise and still have someone in place before Dr. Crawford’s contract expires June 30.

Allison Schafer, the Director of Policy and Legal Counsel of the School Boards Association, appeared before the board Tuesday to outline the service the organization offered.

“We offer the option of helping with the superintendent search process,” Schafer told the board, adding that the Association has aided 56 districts with approximately 80 searches since the program began.

She also made clear the Association’s role in the search.

“This is the most important decision the school board makes,” she said. “It’s not our role to make the decision, choose or even recommend. We bring you the candidates, talk to the candidates for you and get applications.

“We do not sit in on interviews,” she added. “That is the function of the board.”

She said the Association would assist the board in any manner it needed, including background checks, but would not get involved in the decision process.

Bertie board member Pamela Chamblee asked how many applications were generally received during the process. Schafer said in small district like Bertie, the number was generally around 15, but that was better than the national average of 12.

Chamblee asked if the board would receive all of the applications submitted and was told that was the case.

“We give you all of the applications,” Schafer insisted. “Some private firms screen the applicants, but that is not at all our job. Hiring a superintendent is a function of the board and we wouldn’t tread on that.”

Board of Education Chairwoman Gloria Lee asked about a timeline.

“We can start tomorrow,” Schafer said. “In fact the sample timeline we gave you would have us start tomorrow.”

Board Attorney Rod Malone asked about the Association’s fees and Schafer said the search would cost $9,500 plus board-approved expenses and no more than $15,000.

Board member Emma Johnson moved to hire the association and to approve the timeline provided. The motion carried without objection.

The timeline meant the advertising for the vacancy began yesterday (Wednesday) and will continue through the January 6, 2011 application deadline.

A community survey will also be posted on the school district’s website to allow parents and other individuals to rank their priorities as the board seeks a new superintendent.

The board will receive a report on the survey results in December at their regular meeting.

The next step will be January 14 when all applications are sent to individual board members for review and then, two weeks later, the board will meet January 27 to choose those candidates it wishes to interview.

Initial interviews will be done February 7-16 and finalists selected. The final interviews are set for March 7-18 and then the terms of an offer will be decided. Contract negotiations are set for March 18-29.

The announcement of the new superintendent is tentatively slated for Tuesday, March 29, 2011.

Schafer then asked the board to approve the other documents, including an application and a vacancy announcement.