The Columbus Municipal School District took the next step this week in its search for a new superintendent, voting to hire the same national consultant firm that necessitated the search in the first place.
Ray and Associates, the firm that located and recruited CMSD”s Dr. Del Phillips to take over the Sumner County School District in Gallatin, Tenn., submitted a 17-page proposal to CMSD on May 9. The board approved the proposal 3-1 during a special meeting Tuesday night.
Board secretary Tommy Prude voted against the motion, and board member Currie Fisher was not present. Prude has been opposed to hiring an outside firm to find a new superintendent, saying he believes the board is capable of conducting the search themselves.
In Ray and Associates” proposal, the firm outlines a search process to begin Sept. 1 and end with a presentation of semi-finalists in the first week of December. Final candidates would be interviewed the week of Dec. 12.
The full scope of proposed services, which includes building a candidate profile, soliciting community input, and recruiting candidates, will cost $15,500. A cheaper option is available at $14,500 if the board chooses to conduct meetings remotely.
The proposal also states that once the board hires a new superintendent, if either party decides to terminate the relationship within the first two years, the firm will conduct a new candidate search at no additional charge.
Board president Glenn Lautzenhiser said Wednesday afternoon that he has not yet seen the official contract presented by Ray and Associates to board attorney David Dunn, but he is prepared to sign today if there are no legal issues.
This will be CMSD”s first time to work with the firm, which is also currently conducting searches for the Tuscaloosa City School System.
“They have an enviable reputation as someone capable of doing a national search,” Lautzenhiser said. “They have a lot of resources and come highly recommended.”
Proposals were also submitted by independent consultant Dr. Neil Amos and the Mississippi School Boards Association.
Amos asked $8,500 for his services and suggested a timeline which would have placed final candidate interviews in April 2012.
The Mississippi School Boards Association asked for a total of $9,500 for their services and did not offer a suggested timeline.
Ray and Associates, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has specialized in school executive leadership searches since 1975. According to the firm”s website, recruitment is a key part of their method.
“The best candidates already have good jobs, so they must be made aware of the positions for which they may be well qualified,” the site states.
Once the school board signs Ray and Associates” contract, the firm will conduct a planning meeting and interview each board member about desired candidate qualities using the firm”s “33 Desirable Characteristics” survey.
They will then work with a district liaison to prepare promotional materials and an application form. A constituent and stakeholder meeting is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 12.
Phillips” last day with CMSD will be June 11. On June 13, he begins his new position as Director of Schools for the Sumner County School District in Gallatin, Tenn.
The district, located near Nashville, is considerably larger than CMSD. As head of Columbus city schools, Phillips oversaw 4,571 students in seven schools. Sumner County enrolls 28,000 students in 28,000 schools.
The position also comes with a pay increase. Phillips received $154,400 this year in Columbus. His four-year contract in Tennessee carries an annual salary of $178,500.
Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.
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