Input looks at qualities for future school boss

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, May 12, 2004

A good turnout of Brookhaven residents interested in finding thebest person to lead the school district helped members of thesearch firm gather information Tuesday during a public forum.

“You have given us some good input. We pledge to you that we’regoing to work very, very hard to see that your board has a goodslate of candidates,” said Dr. Richard Boyd after an hour and ahalf long discussion with residents at Brookhaven High School.

Boyd, a former state superintendent of education, was joined byother members of the search firm, Dr. Andy Mullins and Dr. CapucineRobinson.

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They are members of The Center for Education LeadershipSearches, the firm hired by the Brookhaven school board to head upthe search for a replacement for Dr. Sam Bounds, who will becomethe executive director of the Mississippi Association of SchoolSuperintendents July 1.

Before meeting with residents at the forum, the firm’srepresentatives talked with administrators and a large group ofteachers to “gather as much information as possible … to guidethe (school) board,” said Boyd, adding that they had already metwith the board on April 7 to discuss their wishes.

Requests from members of the community included having anindividual, male or female, with good morals, the community atheart and a vision to continue advancing the Brookhaven SchoolDistrict while working hand-in-hand with administrators andteachers.

“I hope you’ll find someone of high moral character that wouldbe involved in our community,” stated Shannon Aker, who has twochildren attending Brookhaven public schools.

The Rev. Larry Jointer of St. James Missionary Baptist Churchpointed out that the firm needed to find someone who would bringall races together in the district.

“Our school system and our community are very diverse, sodiversity will play a great role,” he said. “We want this person tosee Brookhaven as Brookhaven, not black Brookhaven and whiteBrookhaven, just Brookhaven as a whole.”

A few members of the audience questioned the firm about hiringsomeone within the district, saying it would be an easytransition.

“I would love to see a person who’s already in the district,because they know us. They know the community,” said Martha BatesWilbert.

Boyd assured her that “internal candidates” would be considered,but hiring a local person was not necessary for the school districtto have a smooth transition from one superintendent to the next. Hesaid a solid school district, such as Brookhaven, would haveeverything ready for the new superintendent to take over.

“Generally when a person comes in on July 1, he or she isinheriting what’s already in place,” he said.

Mullins pointed out that the goal of the search firm is to finda superintendent that will easily move into the position.

“We are trying to learn the district so, that in essence, wefind someone who is a good fit,” he said, explaining that allaspects of the community are considered.

The search firm hopes to have about 25 solid applicants. Afterreviewing the applicants’ background and experience, interviewswill be conducted. The firm will present the school board withapproximately five candidates.

“We think this is an attractive position,” said Boyd. “Wehonestly feel Brookhaven is an attractive place to be asuperintendent.”

Some of the qualifications listed in a brochure the firm willdistribute throughout the state and around the nation are a validadministrator license, be able to reside within the schooldistrict, have experience in curriculum, community relations,fiscal management, educational technology and human resources. Adoctorate degree is preferred, and a master’s degree isnecessary.

Resident Pat Dow also asked that the firm look for someone whowould address the special needs program, while former board memberAmy Valentine expressed a need for the superintendent to have astrong discipline record and support administrators.

Genoa Sartin of Brookhaven asked representatives of the firm tolook for a superintendent who would be aggressive during a timewhen Brookhaven is progressing quickly.

“There’s a lot of things new and exciting going on. I thinkwe’re at a point where the decisions we make in the next few monthsare going to be very important,” he said, mentioning he mayor’srace as well.

The tentative timeline for the search firm is a June 11application deadline, followed by interviews and a possible boarddecision by the end of August.

The search trio has extensive experience in the field ofeducation. Mullins has served as a special assistant to three statesuperintendents and is now the executive assistant to thechancellor at the University of Mississippi. Robinson has 15 yearsin education and is a principal in Jackson Public Schools. She wasnamed administrator of the year last year.