51 apply for head of NCSS

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Board of Education members and the Georgia School Boards Association officials continue to conduct interviews to select finalists for the open position of Newton County School System Superintendent.

The candidate will replace outgoing Superintendent Steven Whatley, who announced in late October his plans to retire on June 30 after more than 20 years at NCSS and four years as superintendent.

Earlier this month, Newton County school board members met with Don Rooks, GSBA director of Legislative and Superintendent Search Services, to review the applications received. In November, BOE members selected GSBA to conduct a nationwide search for the position at a cost of $8,000.

After seeking community input on qualifications and advertising the position, GSBA received 51 applications by the Jan. 19 deadline, according to a press release from NCSS.

Of those, 37 are from Georgia, three from Virginia and two from Michigan, in addition to applicants from Ohio, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Maryland, Florida and Alabama.

Thirty-five of the candidates have educational doctorates, eight are doctors of philosophy in education, six have education specialist degrees and two hold master's degrees.

Ten applicants are employed as superintendents, eight are assistant superintendents, three are associate superintendents, one is an area superintendent and three are former superintendents. Nine principals, two human resources directors/chiefs, two assistant professors and two executive directors have applied for the position.

Other positions held by applicants include adjunct faculty, coordinator of leadership services, managing partner, area coordinator, education specialist, chief academic officer, vice president of student services, instructional supervisor and director.

One applicant is a former county commissioner in another area, and one is self-employed.

"We reviewed all of the applications that met the qualifications set out by the board through GSBA, and we are very encouraged by the wide range of individuals who have applied," said school board Chair Cathy Dobbs in the press release. "We are going to be very conscientious and thorough when selecting our finalists for interview."

According to an NCSS flyer announcing the position and giving an overview of the system, qualifications include possessing a doctorate level degree and Georgia certification; candidates also are preferred to have experience as a superintendent, principal, classroom teacher and private business. Other qualifications include having a history of community leadership and expertise in budgets and administration and curriculum.

They especially must have executive-level experience in education or in the private sector and a proven record of sound fiscal management; use a team-building approach to education leadership, innovative approaches; have high expectations for students in academics, discipline and extracurricular activities and personnel in leadership, professional conduct and system support, according to the flyer.

Dobbs said each board member is reviewing the applications and will meet with Rooks again to narrow the search.

They have not set a target date to announce the new superintendent, Dobbs said.

"We are going to do this on our own timetable," she said. "This is not a decision to be rushed into because we want to make sure that the right person is selected to be the next superintendent of our school system. Our goal is to make the right decision for the success of our students and the well-being of our community. "

Once the school board has narrowed their selection to three or less finalists, their names and background information will be released to the public and media, according to NCSS.

The date a new superintendent assumes office is negotiable, according to the NCSS flier.