Top Clarke County School District administrators gathered Monday to begin the process of picking the search firm to help find the school district’s next superintendent.
Veronica Jackson, the school district’s purchasing and contract coordinator, spelled out the rules for the screening committee members. They should disclose any conflicts of interest, for example.
Twenty companies asked for the school district’s lengthy list of requirements and questions firms had to answer if they wanted to be considered for the job. Only four followed through and submitted proposals, however, Jackson told committee members — chief financial officer Larry Hammel; Ted Gilbert and Mark Tavernier, two of the school district’s three associate superintendents; Dawn Meyers, the school district’s executive director for policy and school support services; and Monica Gant, executive director of secondary teaching and learning, sitting in for the third associate superintendent, Sherri Freeman.
Jackson sent the committee members home with their homework — copies of the four firms’ proposals, which they are to study carefully before giving each company a numerical grade on several scales, including price and the scope of services the company promises to supply.
The committee reconvenes Thursday to talk about their grading and decide the ones they will recommend for the school board interview.
That number could be all four, or a smaller number, depending on how they grade out, she said.
The administrators should be prepared to defend how they’ve graded the firms when they meet Thursday, Jackson said.
Being on the committee is an important job, she told them.
“It means you will be entrusted with a great deal of responsibility,” she said.
Unlike most such administrative meetings, Monday’s meeting was open to the public.
Some board members argued at a board meeting last week that the board should be more involved in choosing the firm than is usual when the school district vets companies to perform various services.
Usually, a group of administrators picks finalists when the board is picking a company to perform some service — grounds maintenance, for example. Administrators submit the list to the board, along with a recommendation on which company should get the job.
But choosing a search firm for a superintendent is different, said several board members at the board’s monthly meeting last week.
The board decided its members could attend meetings of the committee screening search firms. The one that ultimately gets the job is charged with finding and screening applicants to succeed Clarke County School Superintendent Philip Lanoue, who is resigning effective March 1. School board members hope to have a replacement lined up before Lanoue leaves.
But that decision to allow board members to attend meant a committee meeting might become an official board meeting, if enough board members came to form a quorum — the number required to conduct official business.
Because of that possibility, the committee meetings would be governed by a state law requiring board of education meetings be open to the public except under special exceptions, such as when the board deliberates about real estate transactions, explained the school board’s lawyer, Michael Pruett.
Not enough board members came Monday to form a quorum, however. Carol Williams sat in, and Greg Davis showed up just as the short, routine meeting ended after about 20 minutes. Williams and Davis also got copies of the four proposals, with the same warning committee members got — to keep the contents confidential.
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