Demopolis BOE sets qualifications for superintendent

The Demopolis City Schools Board of Education met Tuesday morning to specifically define the qualifications for its superintendent vacancy.

The board spent the bulk of the meeting discussing aspects of its vision for the school system and how to properly integrate it into the job posting.

The BOE will cast a reasonably wide net in its search as the position will require candidate’s to have a master’s degree while favoring those with a doctorate degree.

The salary, which currently sits at $124,950, will be established upon hire out of a range of $122,000 to $132,000.

The board also tangled with the idea of specifying administrative experience as a requirement for the position. The board ultimately determined that its ideal candidate would have superintendent experience but such would not be required. The board is, however, seeking a candidate with a minimum of three to five years experience in school administration. While requisite instructional experience will not be listed in the job posting, the board has expressed its desire for the candidate to have classroom experience. That filter is expected to be applied through the Alabama Association of School Boards, which is handling the search process.

“We decided to go with them because they have everything so organized, all the materials are ready. They know more people who will be in the search to match us with someone who will fit our system and community,” board member Linda Russell said of the decision to allow the AASB to conduct the superintendent search. “They’re helping us through every step of the way and keeping the community involved. They’re helping us with interview questions. They’re always there for any questions that we have. We just felt like this was the best route we could go.”

Other issues the board discussed in terms of what it deems important qualities to be exhibited by its next superintendent included a commitment to arts education.

“I think the arts are probably as important as the sports in a lot of ways,” incoming board member Olen Kerby offered, seeking guidance on how the board should stress such an emphasis during the hiring process.

“We’ve had a lack of artistic vision for sure. There’s no doubt about that,” board attorney Alex Braswell said before encouraging the board to focus on that type of emphasis within the confines of the interview process. “You’re not going to be able to put everything that is relevant to us in a pamphlet.”

A majority of the required qualifications for the next superintendent come as a result of the AASB’s survey process in which it polled community stakeholders and school system employees about what it desires in a leader.

“We actually found out that the results were very similar from all of the groups, including us. I think we all want the same thing,” Russell said.

“The surveys, I would say, were very eye opening. But it was refreshing to see that so many people came to the same conclusions,” board member Jim Stanford said.

Those qualifications will tentatively be listed as follows:

  • A student-focused leader who understand K-12 curriculum
  • Maintains high visibility in the community and schools
  • Ability to inspire, challenge, and effectively manage personnel and ensure accountability
  • Resides in Demopolis (with family) and school-age children are expected to attend Demopolis City School
  • Ability to create and articulate a common vision for the system and to unite the system staff, parents and community to restore pride in the system
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • Trustworthy, honest, unquestionable integrity
  • Good listening skills and ability to build trust with all of the stakeholders
  • Demonstrates a knowledge and understanding of Alabama school finance and law and supports transparency
  • Committed to improving partnerships with the business community and the school foundation

The board entered into the search process in April after former superintendent Dr. Al Griffin announced his retirement March 30. That retirement was set to begin July 1 before the board voted Thursday, May 21 to end Griffin’s tenure immediately and appoint Dr. Frank Costanzo as interim superintendent.

The current superintendent search marks the third such process for the school system since 2006. Russell and Stanford have taken part in each of those superintendent searches.

“I think the AASB process is more thorough and it is going to allow us to reach into a deeper pool of candidates than what we previously got,” Stanford said. “They have the contacts within the state and the surrounding states to get that select pool of candidates based on what our qualifications would be.”

The job is set to post Thursday, May 28. Applications are due in by July 6. The AASB is set to begin its screening process July 9 and give the BOE a list of finalists July 16. The DCS BOE expects to begin its interviews July 20. The board is hopeful to have a hire in place by August 10 with a flexible start date.