COVINGTON -- The Newton County Board of Education will spend at least $8,000 to conduct a search for its next superintendent of schools, who could be selected by April.
Despite opposition from one board member, the school board approved the Georgia School Boards Association to conduct the search. The board's Vice Chair Jeff Meadors opposed the motion, which was approved by the other members during Tuesday's monthly meeting.
Current Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews announced last month that he would retire in June. In 2010, the school board brought Mathews in through a GSBA search; GSBA also conducted a search for NCSS in 1993.
The board's other options were to appoint someone or use a free search through the Griffin Regional Educational Service Agency, which Meadors hoped to do instead of spending taxpayer money, he previously said. However, board member Shakila Henderson-Baker said Tuesday that she cannot find that Griffin RESA has ever conducted a superintendent search before or highly advertises for the service, and that GSBA conducted the searches for Fayette and Butts county schools over the past few years, even though they are part of Griffin RESA as well.
"My concern is that we would become a test" if Griffin RESA handled the search, Baker said. "Our next superintendent will handle the accreditation with us in March 2014."
Dr. Jim Puckett, a board development specialist with GSBA, reported to the board Tuesday that the search service costs $8,000, plus consultant travel. Travel expenses, which usually include about three trips, could cost around $100 total.
The board also might consider advertising for the position in national publications and provide candidate travel and lodging during the interview process, but they are not required to do so. Criminal and financial background checks through GSBA also cost $50 each or can be handled internally.
Puckett provided the board with a sample timeline, which could have the process complete by April or May, depending on the board. This week, he plans to electronically survey the board members to gather their qualification preferences, and the board would approve a list of qualifications during its meeting on Jan. 8.
GSBA expects to be able to send a brochure listing the qualifications and other information for prospective candidates to its 1,500 contacts. Throughout the process, GSBA will send weekly updates of candidate information received to the board. The deadline to receive applications could be around March 1, Puckett suggested.
GSBA could review applications and conduct reference checks until mid-March and meet again with the board shortly after to discuss potential candidates. GSBA will report to the board three groups of candidates -- those who closely meet their qualifications, those who meet most of their qualifications and those who don't meet their qualifications.
Also throughout the process, the board expects to open up a community survey to get residents' preferences for the next superintendent.
"I would like to get the community involved in this," Baker said. "It helps with transparency."
Around the end of March, the board might be ready to conduct interviews with a few candidates.
"The process should be winding down in mid-April," Puckett said.
At least 14 days prior to the meeting at which the final vote is to be taken, the board must release certain information on as many as three candidates to the public.
"We encourage you to keep the process as transparent as possible," Puckett said, adding that some personnel information would have to be discussed in closed session.