CUMMING — The clock has started ticking on the Forsyth County school system’s superintendent search.
Jim Puckett, a board development specialist with the Georgia School Board Association, walked system officials through the process Thursday night and addressed how the state association would help.
And at a community meeting that followed the work session, Puckett spoke with a small group of parents who came to offer input on who should succeed Buster Evans.
Evans is retiring June 30 after six years with the district to become assistant commissioner of education with the Department of Corrections.
At Puckett’s request, the parents shared their favorite qualities of the school system, the most critical issues it faces and the desirable characteristics and skills a new superintendent should have.
The consensus? The district’s appeal centers on its high level of achievement, flexibility and openness to change, as well as its small-town feel, communication and technology.
The most critical issue facing the county is growth, the group agreed. And along with the growth came diversification, including new cultures, crowding and loss of that community feel.
Jayne Iglesias, one of the parents in attendance, noted that the community is “used to being on top and we like it there.”
The next superintendent should possess vision, innovation and character, while being an effective communicator who has growth experience.
Iglesias said the next leader should have a plan to “keep up with what we have now, but with a much higher population of students.”
Local school board members attended the meeting with parents and said they would take that information and the comments posted in an online survey, under advisement.
During the earlier work session, Puckett talked about how the association would help the board with the search.
“The work that we will do is to facilitate the logistics,” Puckett said. “We would be the contact on your behalf ... we bring in a team to measure the qualifications of each application ... we also check references on the top group of applicants.”
Forsyth plans to have applications for the position released by the end of the month, and will be accepting applications for up to six weeks.
From there, the association’s staff will narrow the field into three categories: applicants who meet the county’s requirements; those that meet some but not all of them; and those who meet few.
“We’re not recommending [any applicants],” Puckett said. “We’re not a head hunter group.”
The local board can then comb through the applications. Individual interviews will be conducted in executive session. From there, the board must narrow the field and release information on as many as three candidates to the public.
Puckett cautioned the board against introducing candidates to the public, noting the community may lobby for friends. But he also noted providing the information to the public allows the community to provide feedback.
The community would have 14 days before the board could legally provide a contract to their preferred candidate.
The state association would have the responsibility of informing all candidates who weren’t selected for the position, Puckett said.
Forsyth’s school board decided to advertise for the position electronically, saving money on mailing out brochures to the association’s contact list. It will also look across the Southeast.
In addition to cost savings, board member Tom Cleveland said
the electronic application process likely will ensure Forsyth lands a tech-savvy leader, one of the community’s key areas of focus.
“We want a technology-enabled candidate,” he said.
The application will include minimum requirements. The board also decided not to make living in Forsyth a requirement, with chairwoman Darla Light saying they “don’t want to exclude anybody,” particularly those may live nearby.
Light said an interim superintendent would be hired before Evans leaves, reiterating that they “do not want to be rushed.”
“We want to make sure we get the best person for the job,” she said.