From left, DeKalb County Board of Education vice chairman Marshall Orson, chairman Michael Erwin and former Superintendent Steve Green work during a recent board meeting. (AJC FILE PHOTO)

Search firm presents DeKalb Schools superintendent candidate profile

The new DeKalb County School District superintendent should be a financially savvy veteran educator able to work collaboratively with district stakeholders, according to a candidate profile prepared by the superintendent search firm.

BWP & Associates officials said the profile is the result of numerous meetings with school board members, school district officials and DeKalb residents; and online survey results. Six community forums were held last month, and BWP consultants held interviews beginning after they were selected for the job. Hundreds of people filled out the online survey or participated in the community forums, said consultant Percy Mack, also a former DeKalb County School District employee.

The online survey “allowed us to get qualitative and quantitative” information to assist with finding the district’s next superintendent, Mack said.

So far, 43 people have applied for the position, BWP consultant Kevin Castner said, adding that people are interested because they know where the district is and what it has to offer. Also helpful to the candidate pool, he said, was the board’s choosing to keep the process confidential, where finalist names are withheld from the public, which allows people to apply without raising flags with current employers.

Those interviewed said the district’s strengths include its educators and the level of parental involvement. Challenges include facilities, school safety, personnel issues, climate, culture, trust and morale, visibility of leadership and communication.

“As you select your candidate, understand that person will not wear an S on their chest,” Mack said. “That person has to have the support of the community … and bring a lot of skills here.”

Of those 43 candidates, 11 currently are superintendents elsewhere. Seven of the 43 applicants are from Georgia.

Many of the top qualities desired were things some said were missing from former superintendent Steve Green. Community members have been critical of annual budgets, as more and more money went to administrative hiring and other outside-the-classroom efforts. The district is behind on submitting information for annual state audits. Advocacy groups have called for a forensic audit in recent years.

The school board will give input on the candidate profile by the end of the week. The application period ends Dec. 14. On Jan. 6, BWP will submit to the school board a list of candidates the board is expected to vet and interview throughout the month. In February, the board is expected to select a finalist and negotiate a contract and starting date for a new leader.

BWP & Associates of Libertyville, Ill., was chosen this summer to lead the search to replace Green, who announced in May that he would leave the district at the end of the current school year. Instead, Green left last month through a separation agreement between him and the DeKalb County Board of Education. He will be listed as an inactive employee through June 30, 2020, and receive his paycheck, though he is free to begin a new job immediately.

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