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CMSD superintendent search officially begins


Edna McGill

Edna McGill



Sarah Fowler



Almost a year since its last superintendent was ousted, the Columbus Municipal School District has officially opened the search for its next permanent leader. 


During a specially-called meeting of the Columbus Municipal School Board on Monday morning, board members approved a list of qualifications they wanted in a superintendent. 


That list includes someone who possesses high levels of self confidence, high standards of integrity, strong people skills, someone who will inspire trust and has the philosophy of putting students first, according to Gary Ray with Iowa-based superintendent search firm Ray and Associates. 


Ray and Associates were chosen by the board on April 24 to conduct the superintendent search. The district will pay Ray and Associates $13,500. 


The district has been without a permanent superintendent since Dr. Martha Liddell was relieved of her duties on June 17, 2013, after it was discovered she used school funds for personal use. Interim Superintendent Edna McGill has been serving in the role since June 19, when she was appointed as temporary interim.  


McGill previously said she was not interested in serving as the district's permanent superintendent. When reached this morning, however, McGill said she had not made a final decision on whether she was going to apply for the position. 


The deadline to apply is May 30. The district hopes to begin the interview process in mid-June and have a superintendent by July 1, Ray said. 


When asked if a 10-day application window was feasible, Ray said his firm has been actively searching for applicants since late April. 


"When they hired our firm, then we got the word out to our associates around the country," Ray said this morning. "We've been reaching out to people for some time. It's not like, whoops, we've only got 10 days." 


He added, however, that if his firm does not feel confident in the applications they receive, they would ask the board for more time to continue the search. 


"I did tell the board that if for some reason the firm doesn't feel that the quality is there, we'll step back and meet with the board and look at other options," he said. "I don't think that will be the case, but you always have to have a plan B." 


Board president Angela Verdell said she was comfortable with the board-proposed timeline. 


"The search process continues to adhere to the timeline approved by the board," Verdell said via email Monday afternoon. "We are steadily moving forward to place a permanent superintendent in a timely manner." 


Ray said while applicants could not officially apply for the position until today, his firm has received interest in the position. He added that no matter how many or how few applications Ray and Associates receives, the right applicant is what matters. 


"It only takes one," he said. "It has to be the right one, but it only takes one."


Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.



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