Columbus Municipal School District trustees took their first look at qualifications for 19 candidates who applied for the district’s superintendent position during a nearly five-hour executive session at Brandon Central Services Wednesday.
Also present at the meeting were Mississippi School Board Association representatives, including search consultant Tommye Henderson and assistant executive director Denotris Jackson, who provided each board member with a binder containing resumes, applications, references and background checks of every candidate to review.
The new superintendent will replace Philip Hickman, who was fired in February. CMSD trustees had already voted before Hickman’s termination, however, not to renew his contract past June 30.
Craig Shannon, deputy superintendent, is serving as interim superintendent during the search process.
The board voted not to renew former superintendent Philip Hickman’s contract in November. Hickman was later fired in February.
Henderson, who has worked with the district since the board hired MSBA to conduct the search in January, said the session consisted of each board member combing through information on each of the 19 candidates.
“The board is very focused on finding the right leader for the Columbus School District, and I think that is apparent by the amount of time they have invested in this process,” Henderson said. “They are very deliberate in moving through the applications carefully, asking questions and making notes. So I see great dedication on their part.”
According to Henderson, 13 candidates are from Mississippi. The rest are from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois and Pennsylvania. CMSD also published a press release last week that said of the candidates, seven are female and 12 male. Three are superintendents, one a former superintendent, two are directors/coordinators, four are principals, one an educational consultant and five have alternative qualifications.
Neither the board nor Henderson would comment on whether any of the applicants are from the Golden Triangle.
MSBA will continue to work with CMSD until a superintendent has been chosen. Once the board finalizes a smaller list, MSBA will set up interviews. The board is in charge of all the decisions. However, MSBA provided sample questions for the board to use throughout the interview process.
Board president Jason Spears said he hopes that the board will narrow down the list of potential candidates by the end of next week. He added he was pleased with the board’s choices.
“Our pool wasn’t just large (in number) but a large quality,” he said.
Spears said the goal is to eventually finalize the list to four or five candidates and allow the community to participate in a public interview.
No definite timeline been announced for selecting finalists and holding public interviews. However, Spears hopes to be able to shorten the list of candidates before the next school board meeting on May 14.
Spears is excited about the outcome.
“Our board is doing well and working together to find the best candidate for the district,” he said.