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28 seeking superintendent post

There’s a big job coming open at the Brookhaven central schooloffice, and hungry applicants are almost beating down the door toget in.

Outgoing Brookhaven School District Superintendent Lea Barrett,who is set to retire by the end of the 2010-11 school year, saidthe school board has received 28 applications from educators andadministrators interested becoming the next superintendent, a totalthat’s about four times greater than officials were expecting. Thelist of potential top school bosses includes at least foursuperintendents currently serving in other districts, she told theRotary Club of Brookhaven-Lincoln County on Thursday.

“It’s a higher number than most places see right now,” Barrettsaid. “That tells me this district is a light in thiscommunity.”

Barrett said the city school board would begin meeting sometimein the next two weeks to begin reviewing the applications, with agoal of narrowing down the list to around seven solid candidates.The final seven will be invited in for an interview.

The board hopes to have its final list compiled beforeChristmas, she said.

The search for the next superintendent will be “honest” and”pure,” Barrett said. Principals and administrators already workingfor the district will not be given special consideration overapplicants from outside, she said.

“I really don’t think there’s an inside track,” Barrettsaid.

Barrett also said she would not be involved in the process.

“I don’t want a say-so,” she said. “We have a very strong,intelligent board.”

The board has already established two possible dates for a newadministration to take over – Feb. 1 is the early transition date,with June 30 being the late date. Barrett said she hopes the nextsuperintendent will be chosen by the early date, allowing the newschool boss to get involved in the budgeting process for the2011-12 school year.

“Anyone who comes in on July 1 is really just carrying on thebudget I’ve helped set,” she said.

Looking back on her ending career, Barrett said the recentranking of Brookhaven High School and Brookhaven Elementary Schoolas high performing by the Mississippi Statewide AccountabilitySystem is one of her highlights. She believes BHS will be earn a”star” ranking – the system’s highest – next year.

Barrett also spoke about the termination of some employees andprograms earlier this year, saying the action was difficult butnecessary. She also pointed out the district had three assistantsuperintendents when her tenure began seven years ago, a number shehelped cut down to one – James Tillman, who is also retiring.

Meanwhile, the district’s non-certified personnel – likecustodians and cafeteria workers – need raises to make up forlosses to increased insurance contributions and health care costs,Barrett said. She hopes to push those raises through before hertime in office is up.

Barrett also addressed rumors about guns, threats and masscheckouts from BHS two weeks ago in the wake of the shooting deathof 16-year-old Bryant Holloway, who was allegedly killed by friendand fellow BHS student Tye Williams, also 16. A report by thestatewide newspaper seemingly confirming the pandemonium wasuntrue, she said.

“We didn’t have any guns at BHS,” Barrett said.