COVINGTON --The Newton County Board of Education is considering results of a survey that some educational stakeholders took earlier this year to weigh in on the next superintendent's qualifications.
The Newton County School System reported this week that nearly 1,000 NCSS parents, employees and other Newton County residents took the online survey earlier this year.
It contained eight multiple choice questions and one question that allowed survey takers to write out a response.
"We appreciate everyone taking the time to provide feedback," said Abigail Coggin, chair of the school board. "The information from the public will be invaluable as we finalize our selection of the next leader of Newton County Schools."
When asked how important it is that the next superintendent have a terminal degree such as Ph.D. or Ed.D., more than 45 percent of survey-takers responded that it should be mandatory, with another 43 percent feeling that it is important but should not be mandatory. Twelve percent stated it was not very important.
Respondents also were asked how important it is that the next superintendent has previous experience as a superintendent. Roughly 39 percent said it should be mandatory; however, approximately 49 percent determined it to be important but not mandatory.
Those taking the survey did, however, by large majority, think that the next superintendent should have experience as a principal -- 76 percent stated it should be mandatory, with another 21 percent saying it is important but should not be mandatory.
Likewise, the respondents overwhelmingly expressed their opinion that the next superintendent should have experience as a classroom teacher, with 84 percent saying it should be mandatory; 14 percent said it's important but should not be mandatory.
When asked if it was important that the next superintendent have previous experience in private business, only 7 percent said it should be mandatory, while 49 percent said it's important but not mandatory and approximately 44 percent did not consider it very important.
Survey participants were also asked to pick from a list of choices the two most important areas in which the new superintendent should have a documented history of leadership. By large majority, approximately 74 percent, the respondents chose community organizations and other community affairs. An additional 53 percent selected professional organizations, 41 percent stated that public speaking and other oral communications were important and 23 percent said publications and other written communications were important.
In addition, survey participants were also asked to rate areas in which they felt the new superintendent should have special expertise. Three received overwhelming choices -- administration, curriculum and budgets, with each receiving over 80 percent of the votes. Also ranked high was personnel, with 63 percent, and school law with 50 percent. Technology and facilities received 35 percent and 30 percent, respectively.
A breakdown of survey participants revealed that 38 percent were parents or guardians of Newton County School System students, 11 percent were non-parent members of the community and 51 percent were employees of NCSS.
Current Superintendent Gary Mathews is set to retire in July.
The school board selected three finalists from more than 30 applications received earlier this year -- internal candidate Samantha Marie Fuhrey, deputy superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for NCSS; Samuel Paul Light, superintendent of the Illini Bluffs Community Unit School District #327 in Glasford, Ill., since 2008; and Noris Felicia Price, deputy superintendent for the Clarke County School District in Athens, a position she has held for eight months.
The superintendent will be chosen at a future meeting of the school board, but the date has not been announced. By law, the board must wait at least 14 days before voting on a superintendent.