12/13/09 — Duplin County schools get help with superintendent search

View Archive

Duplin County schools get help with superintendent search

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on December 13, 2009 1:50 AM

KENANSVILLE -- The Duplin County Board of Education will have help in finding a new superintendent for the school system.

Board members have decided to ask the North Carolina Association of School Boards to assist in the process.

Allison Schafer, legal counsel and policy director with the NCASB, described the group's role as an assistant that will leave the ultimate decision entirely up to board members.

"We basically help school districts with the search. We're very respectful of the board's role, which is to make the decision. We do the legwork for them -- draft applications, conduct online surveys, talk to candidates. We do it very often," Ms. Schafer said.

The NCASB can advertise in multiple media, send and compile applications, answer phone calls and correspond with applicants, arrange interviews, check references, arrange for background checks and protect confidentiality.

The group charges $8,500 as the base fee, no matter how much time the search takes, and will add on any additional expenses the school board authorizes. It varies depending on candidate travel reimbursements and advertising costs, but the entire process normally costs $12,000, Ms. Schafer estimated.

"We begin with some proposed documents, we come up with a timeline and we talk about the different stages," she said.

The NCASB can suggest different ways that the Board of Education can approach the search and work with its members on developing the best way to conduct it.

The applications go through the NCASB, which passes them on to the school board for review. The response from applicants can be overwhelming, and this process makes it easier for board members to make their decision. Normally, the board members will take a week or two to examine the application packets before deciding which candidates will come in for an interview.

"We normally recommend between seven and 10 so that they have a good choice of candidates,"

The NCASB can help the board members set up guidelines and work through the process of choosing a new superintendent, but the board members will be the ones to determine what exact qualifications they want in a successful candidate.

"That's really up to the board. It used to be they had to have a superintendent certification. Now there's an alternative qualification route," Schafer said.

The nontraditional candidates must have at least five years leadership experience in a similar setting and a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Under the traditional licensure program, to earn a superintendent's certificate a candidate must have taken doctorate-level work and obtained a specialist degree and one year's experience as principal or an equivalent of the same.

Most superintendents in the state are licensed, but some are from the alternative program, Ms. Schafer said.

"Those tend to be people who came up through the school system," she said.

The NCASB can provide a salary schedule to help then determine how much to pay the new candidate. The salaries of public school superintendents are public information, and the group can show a list of salaries based on similarly-sized school districts so the Board of Education will have a baseline for comparison, Ms. Schafer said.

Overall, the search for a new superintendent for Duplin County Schools will probably take about six months, Ms. Schafer said. Under state law, if a certified employee gives less than a month's notice, their certificate can be revoked for the remainder of the year. The six months figure takes into account a one-month period after the new candidate has given notice but before they start their new job, she said.

The NCASB is currently also helping several other school systems in the state find new superintendents, and on average helps fill about 10 of the leadership positions every year.