School board hires state agency for superintendent search

Published 5:32 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The search is officially underway for the next superintendent of Beaufort County Schools. During its bi-monthly meeting May 15, the Beaufort County Board of Education voted unanimously to retain the services of the North Carolina School Board Association to conduct the search for BCS Superintendent Don Phipp’s replacement.

“As all of you know by now, we will be losing our superintendent,” BOE chairman Mac Hodges told his fellow board members during the meeting. “Beaufort County’s loss is Caldwell County’s gain.”

NCSBA attorney Allison Schaffer presented to the board, offering an anticipated timeline for the search. In the last 19 years, the NCSBA has worked with 79 of 115 school districts in the state, conducting 161 superintendent searches, including the search that brought Phipps to Beaufort County.

“It takes about six months to do a good search,” Schaffer told the board.

With an application deadline set in late July, Schaffer recommended that the board seek input from both the public and school staff during the application period. As a service to the board, the NCSBA conducts a rigorous vetting of each candidate, including Internet searches, confirmation of college credentials and gathering any potential information that could help inform the board’s decision.

“We do not recommend candidates or screen candidates,” Schaffer said. “We feel like by law, this is your job as a board, but we try to give you good tools to get you where you need to go.”

Upon closing the application period, the board would then review applications, setting up interviews with between seven to 10 candidates. After the first round of interviews, the pool is typically narrowed down to three or four candidates. At that point, the NCSBA will do further due diligence to examine references, credit checks and background information.

“Our job is to help the board have a good process and get good information on these candidates,” Schaffer said.

The identities of candidates will remain confidential throughout this process, and upon selection of the next superintendent, the school board’s attorney will work through contract negotiations. Generally, once a selection is made, it can take between one and three months to have the new superintendent in place.

With the timetable set as it is, it could be November or December by the time Beaufort County Schools welcomes its new superintendent. This timetable will require an interim superintendent to take on that role beginning in July.

While the search is provided for a flat fee of $18,500, the total may cost as much as $25,000, depending on the expenses the board chooses to incur in terms of advertising and travel expenses.

The NCSBA will return to the June 5 meeting of the Board of Education to begin the process.