No plan for NASD superintendent search yet

Published 12:03 am Monday, May 30, 2016

NATCHEZ — The Natchez-Adams School District Board of Trustees has not discussed hiring a superintendent, but the majority of the board feels the discussion needs to take place sooner rather than later.

Board President Amos James said the trustees have been concentrating on the transition of Interim Superintendent Fred Butcher. Butcher was hired in April to replace former Superintendent Frederick Hill. James also cited graduation and the district being short 60 staff members as concerns that have taken priority.

While James said he wants to wait until the staffing crisis is resolved to have the discussion, board members Phillip West, Cynthia Smith and Benny Wright said hiring a superintendent should be a topic for a board meeting in the near future.

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“I am going to bring it up,” West said. “We need to know where we are going, and what kind of time frame we need to get there.”

Wright said discussion on hiring a new superintendent is ultimately up to the president of the board, but he said he believes the process needs to be started immediately.

“It took us nearly a year to recruit and find a superintendent who was qualified and interested in coming to Natchez last time,” he said. “It is going to take some time to find a replacement.”

Wright said the recent firing of Hill and the district’s history of ousting superintendents will make the process even more difficult than the last round.

Smith said the board needs to begin the search and develop a timeline, but she said Butcher is doing a good job and the district shouldn’t be in any hurry to hire someone.

“This time of year, it is going to be very difficult to find someone worthy of the position because they have likely already taken a job elsewhere,” she said. “I think we need to take our time and vet whoever we decide to place.”

Wright and Smith said the district should use the Mississippi School Board Association’s superintendent search service. West said he believed the board should look locally before using a consulting service.

“I think we need to look at those persons we already know are interested,” West said. “If we find the right fit, we should move forward. If we don’t, it’ll take a longer time to go through the search process.”

West said he’s heard of four people interested in the job who have served or are serving in a similar position elsewhere in Mississippi. He said two of them are from Natchez.

While there might be a good candidate locally, Wright said the district should not limit its search.

“I believe limiting the search to Natchez will keep us in a stagnant and failing position,” he said. “I would not eliminate anyone in Natchez, but I believe we need to find the best possible candidate.

“The education of our children needs to come before the job creation component of the board. That ought to be the attitude.”

James said the board needs to focus on getting everything together for the next school year.

“Right now, all I’m trying to do is get personnel in there to fill these jobs,” he said. “Hiring a new superintendent is the farthest thing from my mind right now.”

Board member Thelma Newsome did not return a call left at her home number.