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As the Marion County Board of Education goes through the process of hiring a new superintendent for the second time in less than two years, its members must be aware that everyone is watching.
We’ve said it before and we’ll repeat it here: The selection of a superintendent is the single most important decision the board will make. Other decisions are certainly important, but none are as big as who will be the next leader of our school district.
We’re sure the board members are quite aware that the public will be paying closer attention to the superintendent hiring process than they did two years ago. Regardless of what anyone may think of the board’s final decision in 2009, we do think that board set a good example of how to conduct the hiring process.
Based on that experience, here is what we expect of the school board this time:
- The board should provide basic information about all the applicants. We understand that most of the early screening process will take place in executive sessions. However, the public deserves to know how many applicants there are, how many have administrative experience, how many are male and female, and how many minority applicants there are.
- The public also deserves to know the names of the finalists who will be interviewed. This is necessary for the public to know who is being considered for the position.
As of this writing, the full screening committee is almost in place. The committee members serve an important role in the hiring process, but they are not the decision makers. The school board can accept or ignore the committee’s recommendations. The board members will decide who to interview and, ultimately, who will be offered the opportunity to lead our community for the next four years.
In recent meetings, board members also said they want public input regarding the next superintendent. We hope members of our community take advantage of their opportunities to give the board members feedback, whether this happens through a public forum, in writing or even during one-on-one conversations with board members.
Here at the newspaper, we will do our best to report on the hiring process and on the individuals being considered.
We don’t envy the board members. This will be a difficult decision, and one that voters won’t soon forget. These are the same voters who proved last November that they weren’t afraid to make big changes of their own when they elected to replace a majority of the school board. If they don’t like how the board handles the hiring of the next superintendent, we’re certain they’ll be willing to make another big change in 2012.