The Christian County Board of Education Thursday evening heard from the Kentucky Association of School Administrators at the Christian County Public Schools’ front office about how it will conduct the upcoming superintendent search for the district. At its last meeting, the board chose to use KASA to help search for the next superintendent as Superintendent Mary Ann Gemmill will retire at the end of the current school year.
“One thing that I do want to do is make sure and say that we’ll take the legal — make sure we’re following all of the statutes and the laws during this process,” said Phil Eason, the KASA representative that will be working with CCPS. “And take an ethical approach by staying within the processes.”
Eason said that the process will follow four pillars: Do not rely on instinct alone; look beyond appearances; find the right fit for the district and to be as informed as possible to make the best decision.
“I’ll be guided by those (pillars) and try to bring you this information as we move forward,” he said.
The superintendent search process is laid out by Kentucky statutes, local board statutes and opinions from the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office.
Eason brought a draft timeline for the search which would end on April 1 with the board making its decision. That date was chosen to help create a smooth transition as Gemmill would be leaving on the final day of school.
“The caveat is we have this date set here,” Eason said. “But we’re not going to be in a rush to hire the wrong person.”
He added that if that April 1 date comes and there is not a person that will meet the district’s needs, KASA will start over. But he said he is confident in the search process.
The goal is that the position will be posted on Wednesday, Jan. 22. Applications will be due on Feb. 25.
“Also by your own policy, the screening committee will receive them that day,” he said.
Screening committeeThe screening committee will consist of six local members. Eason will be a part of establishing the screening committee.
The committee will include two teachers, a classified employee, a principal, a parent and a board member appointed by the board chair.
The two teachers are elected by the district’s teachers. According to an attorney general’s opinion, the teachers must run their own elections.
The classified employee will be elected by the district’s classified employees. The principal is elected by the district’s principals — assistant principals are not included in the screening committee process.
The parent is elected by the presidents of the Parent Teacher Organization’s of each school. If a school in the district does not have a PTO, that school cannot vote on the parent to sit on the screening committee.
If a minority member is not present within those six seats, a seventh seat can be added.
The screening committee will eventually send a recommendation of three to five candidates to the board, although Eason said that number is only general practice.
“It is the board’s obligation and duty to appoint the superintendent,” Eason said. “This is not an election of a superintendent.”
He added that the screening committee is not a selection or a search committee.
“They are a committee that will screen per (the board’s) criteria,” he said.
If the search goes by the draft that Eason brought to the board, the committee will bring its list of candidates to the board and the board will hold a closed session on March 12 to learn about and discuss the candidates. Although, at press time the board had not yet agreed to the March 12 closed session.
At this point the names of the candidates will not become public.
“I want to stress again … the board will determine when and if the names will become public,” Eason said. “But the time the screening committee (is doing its work) the names will be kept strictly confidential.”
The board will not know any of the candidates until the screening committee presents them to the board.
“At this point, every board member should not be advocating for anybody,” he said. “It should be inquiring.”
He told the board that if the members already have a person in mind, “that’s politics.”
“When you’re looking at characteristics or criteria, the person’s talent, skills, knowledge and experience,” he said. “Now that’s what’s best for the school district.”
He said that he has no idea if there will be internal candidates. But he added that no one in the district is owed the superintendent job.
“The people who get the benefit of the doubt are the children in this school,” he said. “… If you have an internal candidate, there’s a milepost. If that’s the best, that’s fine.”
The board will hold interviews beginning on March 24, according to Eason’s draft proposal.
Eason urged the board to have faith in the process that KASA has set up.
“If they send you three names, don’t ask for the applicants,” he said. “Go through those three names, if none of those three first meet (the board’s expectations) then ask for more.
“Honor the work of the screening committee. They will do a good job.”
Reach Jon Russelburg at 270-887-3241 or firstname.lastname@example.org.