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Superintendent search narrows

NATCHEZ — One superintendent, one assistant superintendent, three former superintendents, seven school principals, five school supervisors, two consultants and a college faculty member were among the 22 applicants vying to take over the Natchez-Adams School District.

After the NASD school board met in executive session Monday, the board narrowed the list of 22 potential superintendents down and set up interviews with an undisclosed number of top picks, School Board President Wayne Barnett said.

Barnett said the board reviewed many good candidates, and he preferred not to reveal specifics on or the number of people on the shortened list.

“Loose lips sink ships,” Barnett said.

Interviews will start May 2, Barnett said, and the length of the process all depends on how the first round of interviews goes.

“If one candidate jumps out, we won’t need a second round (of interviews),” Barnett said.

The deadline for applications was Feb. 29. The Mississippi School Board Association, which the board hired to assist in the superintendent search, provided some details about the candidates in a press release.

Nine women and 13 men applied for the spot. Thirteen candidates are from Mississippi, two are from Alabama, two from Louisiana, one from Illinois, one from Oklahoma, one from Massachusetts, one from South Carolina and one from Virginia. Twelve of the candidates have doctorate degrees.

Barnett said Mike Waldrop, the executive director of MSBA, delivered a report about the applicants April 10, which included findings from background and reference checks MSBA conducted.

Among some of the criteria the board submitted to advertise the position are skills to meet challenges of a diverse community, effective communication skills, commitment to a “student-first” philosophy, ability to promote positive student behavior and ability to implement a strategic plan.

Waldrop sent a memo about the NASD superintendent opening to education leaders and public relations people around the country, the release said. A brochure seeking candidates was sent to 489 school districts, schools of education and administrator preparation programs.

Barnett said Waldrop’s connections to school districts around the state and region will be useful in the reports MSBA made on each of the candidates.

Barnett said he’s not sure how long the interview process will take, but the board plans to have a new superintendent in place by July 1, when Interim Superintendent Joyce Johnson’s contract expires.

Barnett said morale has improved in the district as a result of Johnson’s work during this school year, and he is confident she will do whatever she can to make the transition to a new superintendent as smooth as possible.

The board reconvened their regular April meeting Monday afternoon primarily to discuss the candidates in a closed session for personnel reasons.

School Board Member Thelma Newsome asked in open session if the board could amend the agenda to discuss school reorganization, but Barnett said the board should wait until the administrators are present at the next regular board meeting to talk about reorganization.

The board’s next regular board meeting will be May 11.