“I think we definitely should have one to help us find a superintendent,” board member Bill Robison said during discussion.
“I would not feel confident myself doing it without a lot of advice,” board member Mary Klinefelter added after the meeting.
Board president Donna Ross said the board will vote on a search firm at its Aug. 15 meeting, at which time it will also approve a timeline for the process. Ross said after the meeting that the board is strongly considering two organizations — the Alabama Association of School Boards and BWP & Associates — to conduct a search.
Sandra Sims-deGraffenried of BWP & Associates met with the board during its work session. Sims-deGraffenried is the former executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards.
“Working on a timeline is premature until you know when you want to bring someone in,” she told the board.
Sims-deGraffenried said if the board wants to have someone in place to take over after Superintendent Joan Frazier’s contract expires on June 30, the board needs to advertise the position beginning Jan. 31.
But the disadvantage of waiting until July 1, she said, is that a new superintendent would inherit a good deal of Frazier’s ideas, new personnel and programs for the following year.
Another option, if Frazier is willing, she said, is to convert her contract to a consultant status and hire a new superintendent in March, which will give the new leader a leg up on the coming school year.
“The positive,” she said, “is they get in here in time to assess your programs, look at personnel… might have some new ideas to implement, and they have a chance to study those and make recommendations.”
After the meeting, Frazier wouldn’t say whether she would be interested in such an arrangement but did say that she is “very interested in making sure there is as smooth an administrative transition as possible.”
If the board chooses to bring in a new superintendent in March, Sims-deGraffenried said the position needs to be advertised by Oct. 30.
In the months leading up to the announcement of the position, she said, the board or consulting firm can gather input from the community about residents’ priorities.
At a board retreat last week, members met with Sally Howell, executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards, for training on how to conduct a superintendent search. The AASB also offers a superintendent search service.
Howell told the board members that if the board conducts the search, all applications are public under state law. By contrast, she said, if a board goes through a consultant, the applications are the property of the search firm, who only passes finalists on to the board.
Howell told board members that once they begin the search, they need to give themselves about four to six months to find a superintendent.
Most board members said they didn’t have other consulting firms in mind, but board member C.K. Huguley said she has been contacting other Alabama districts that have completed recent searches and looking at firms that conduct national searches, some of which are out-of-state.
In other business, the board:
— Approved a request to allow the city of Anniston access to the Anniston Middle School Property for pre-development assessment.
— Set dates for meetings on the 2013-2014 budget as follow: a work session on Aug. 29 and public hearings on Sept. 5 and Sept. 12, all at 5 p.m.
— Scheduled a special meeting for July 26 at noon.
— Voted to change the time of the regular board meetings from 5:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
— Announced a joint meeting with the Anniston City Council scheduled for Aug. 23 at noon at the Anniston City Meeting Center.
— Announced joint ward meetings for the board members with their corresponding council members as follow: Aug. 22 from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at Anniston High School in Ward 1 and Wiggins Community Center in Ward 2. Aug. 26 from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the Project Pay building at Zinn Park in Ward 3 and Norwood Hodges Community Center in Ward 4.
Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.