With Superintendent Joan Frazier retiring at the end of the coming academic year, members of the Anniston Board of Education are preparing to find the schools’ next leader.
At a meeting Thursday in which the board formally accepted Frazier’s retirement notice, members also agreed to attend a training session offered by the Alabama Association of School Boards on how to undertake a superintendent search.
Board president Donna Ross said the training will introduce board members to the process as a whole and address legal issues they must consider.
Both Ross and board member C.K. Huguley said the board needs to conduct a nationwide search.
"When you’re looking for someone in the system, it’s good to let your search be broad enough to capture the highest possibilities,” Huguley said, adding the board could interview local candidates if they fit the criteria members set. “If we just limit it to looking in Anniston alone, I think we miss out on a lot of opportunities to find highly qualified candidates from outside that might bring a diversity of ideas we might not consider.”
Ross said the board needs to find the best possible candidate who will lead the schools to their furthest potential.
“We have a vision for this city, and we need a superintendent that can help make that happen in the schools,” she said, “and I think that you have to look for different thinking to have a different experience.” Ross said part of that vision is finding someone who “lives and breathes technology” and places high emphasis on vocational programs. Huguley said academics and classroom culture are high priorities for her.
Board member William Hutchings said he would prefer finding a superintendent within Alabama, who will be more familiar with state laws and regulations. He also said he wants a tough superintendent who will make sure public school children who live in Anniston attend school here.
Board member Mary Klinefelter said she likes the idea of a Southeastern-based search.
Ross said the 1 1/2-hour orientation is set for a July 12 work session where she expects the board to discuss timelines for the search.
Frazier said one of the reasons she wanted to announce her retirement now is to give the board time to conduct a search without having to consider renegotiating her contract.
“I have confidence that the board, since they have a year, they can take their time, they can receive their training, they can go about this in a very strategically pre-planned manner,” she said, “so we don’t get to the end of this next school year and be left with a quandary of how we’re going to make the transition.”
But Huguley said she thinks the board is starting a little bit late.
“It would have been great to have known a little bit earlier in the year for us to come together and say what are the key components we’re looking for in a superintendent,” she said. Huguley noted the board’s next step in the process will be a month down the road.
In other business, the board:
— Accepted $400,000 in grants from the Public Education Foundation of Anniston for technology infrastructure upgrades and equipment for career technology programs at Anniston High School. The grants require a $172,000 match.
— Authorized a new $86,500 contract for Jimmie Thompson III, chief school financial officer.
— Scheduled a special board meeting for June 20 at 5:30 p.m.
— Scheduled a board retreat/work session for July 12 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
— Approved a 2013-14 salary schedule with a 2 percent raise for all full-time employees, under which starting teachers with bachelor’s degrees will earn $36,867 as opposed to the previous $36,144.
— Discussed hiring a consultant to help the district write its strategic plan.
Staff Writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.