NCSBA hired to search for superintendent|Board seeking wider field of candidates

Published 12:43 pm Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Daily News Correspondent

The Beaufort County Board of Education voted unanimously to hire the N.C. School Boards Association to search for a new county schools superintendent.
The board took action in an early morning meeting Tuesday at Washington High School.
The NCSBA “is the professional organization that represents all 115 local boards of education in North Carolina,” according to the organization’s Web site.
Among other duties, the NCSBA will check references, set up interviews and design application forms, according to board documents.
The search budget is estimated at $12,000, said William Rivenbark, interim superintendent.
“The maximum amount we have billed any board for services is about $13,000,” reads a memorandum to the board from Allison Schafer, director of policy/legal counsel for the NCSBA.
“We would anticipate your bill being between $11,000 and $12,000,” Schafer wrote.
Attached to the memo was a draft time line noting that advertising for the vacancy will begin Tuesday with an application deadline of Oct. 6.
Under the time line, contract discussion is scheduled for Nov. 24 through Dec. 1; a meeting to announce the new schools head is planned for Dec. 1, with employment to begin Jan. 1, 2010.
Schafer’s memorandum includes a breakdown of possible expenses.
“The expenses generally include about $649 in advertising costs (most advertising these days is done free on the Internet); travel costs for out-of-state candidates the board may wish to interview; and any greater than incidental out-of-pocket expenses, such as large-scale copying (which is usually between $300 and $500 depending on the number of applications received and copied and the number of board members), mileage and hotel expenses for our staff and meeting room and food costs,” the memorandum reads.
This is the second superintendent search authorized by the board since the departure of schools head Jeff Moss, who now serves as superintendent of Lee County Schools.
The previous search was carried out by Pam Daw, a former assistant superintendent, said board Chairman Robert Belcher in a post-meeting interview. The basic fee for that search was $6,500 plus expenses, Belcher said. The exact figure wasn’t immediately available.
Eight candidates applied, Belcher related.
Of those eight, the board interviewed four and called in three for a second interview, he said. The board did not identify a suitable candidate for the job, he said.
“In general, we felt that the application pool was too thin,” Belcher said.
Asked about the salary range for the new schools chief, Belcher said the state pays a base salary depending on the degree a person holds.
The final figure will be linked to such factors as a candidate’s education and experience, he said.
The job could carry an annual minimum price tag of $150,000, Belcher said. Around 35 percent to 40 percent of that cost would be in benefits, he said.
“A hundred thousand dollars won’t even buy you a good high-school principal now,” Belcher said, citing the board’s recent experience with prospective administrators’ salary expectations.
The final figures for the superintendent job will be hammered out in contract negotiations, he said.
“It really is going to depend on the quality of the person as to what we are going to offer,” Belcher added.
The board wants a schools head who will work for school safety and increased academic performance, Belcher said.
“We’re looking for somebody who is completely open and honest with the school board,” he noted.
During the meeting, board member William Warren said his point regarding the search entity was “totally financial,” indicating his desire to save money if possible.
“If we can do what we need to do and come out three or four thousand better off, we’ve got places we can spend that three or four thousand,” Warren said.
Board member Cindy Winstead endorsed kicking off this round of candidate-seeking with a vote to hire the NCSBA, winning a second from Vice Chairman Mac Hodges.
“I think this will give us more exposure, more qualified applicants,” Winstead said.