Survey helps focus criteria for superintendent search
The search for a new superintendent for the Georgetown County School District drew over 1,100 responses to an online survey, which confirmed the results of meetings with nearly 300 people around the district as consultants compiled a profile of the ideal candidate.
The district should be able to attract a strong pool of applicants, said Mary Ann Blaskowitz, senior associate with BWP and Associates, which is conducting the search.
The school board this week approved a base salary for the position of up to $185,000 plus benefits. Randy Dozier, who will retire as superintendent at the end of June, had a base salary of $158,000 in his last contract.
“He is underpaid,” School Board Chairman Jim Dumm said. He added that only one board member questioned the proposed salary. The vote was unanimous.
“The 185 would be the high,” Percy Mack, a member of the BWP search team, told the board. “You call whatever would be in between.”
The search firm asked people to identify the district’s strengths and its challenges in order to create a “leadership profile.” That will be used to screen the applicants and develop interview questions.
“This describes the candidate who would be able to build on the success of the district and address the challenges,” said Frank Morgan, a member of the BWP team.
The profile calls for “an innovative, visionary leader who will work in partnership with community stakeholders to provide equitable educational opportunities for all students.”
It goes on to set out the required skills in instruction, management, communication and personal and professional behavior. Those include high expectations for achievement, the ability to direct resources to the classroom and build community support for additional resources, the ability to engage with diverse groups and “high energy.”
The successful candidate will have experience as a superintendent or an assistant superintendent. That person will also have a doctorate.
Board Member Michael Cafaro said experience as a teacher and principal would also be important. Frank said that was assumed in someone who had become a superintendent.
“I understand,” Cafaro said. “I just like to see things specific.”
He added that he had seen people with a year of classroom experience shift to an administrative career track because of who they knew. Frank said that would be discovered in the screening process.
The strengths and challenges that led to the leadership profile were often intertwined. While “excellent teachers and staff” was among the strengths, the challenges included staff shortages, inadequate pay and retaining staff in rural schools.
Diversity was a strength. Among the challenges were improving diversity of staff and ensuring resources and course offerings were the same across the district.
Other strengths included the district’s financial position, its facilities, community support, safety and the quality of life. Frank said it was also a benefit that the school board works well together. “There’s no volume of media stories about battles going on in board meetings,” he said.
“I learned a long time ago that it’s best to stay out of the newspapers,” Dumm said.
Other challenges include operating under a federal consent decree stemming from a desegregation suit in the 1970s, the need for more career courses and arts programs, the shortage of mental health counselors and the geography of the county that makes transportation difficult.
Without those challenges, “you probably wouldn’t need to hire a superintendent,” Mack said. But the list will determine the skills required for the next superintendent.
Frank added that once those challenges are met, others will open up.
The online superintendent survey will be open through the end of March. It can be found at gcsd.k12.sc.us.