Dr. Phillip Hickman, left, and Dr. David Fonseca field questions from the audience during Tuesday’s public hearing held at Joe Cook Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School. The two men are finalists for the superintendent position. The board’s decision could come as soon as today. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
July 2, 2014 10:28:41 AM
The next superintendent for the Columbus Municipal School District could be announced as early as this afternoon.
Members of the school board held a specially called meeting this morning where they met with finalists Dr. Phillip Hickman and Dr. David Fonseca. The interviews took place in executive session.
Tuesday night, Hickman and Fonseca fielded questions from the public at Joe Cook Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School. The questions ranged from how the candidates would work with the board to how they would handle a "broken" district.
During the meeting, Fonseca, 43, stressed the importance of the administration, support staff, board members and community members working together.
"If I have two middle names it would be David Transparency and Collaboration Fonseca," he said.
When asked how he would fix a broken community and district, Fonseca said he felt the question was based in mistrust of prior administrations. In response, Fonseca said, "We're never going to change what we're willing to tolerate."
Hickman, 38, highlighted his willingness to partner with local businesses and politicians, noting several programs that he has started in past districts.
"My job is to set goals in place so that every child succeeds," Hickman said.
A former football player, Hickman said he was "real big into sports" when an audience member asked his take on sports and arts programs.
Both contenders said they intended to focus on educating the "whole child."
The permanent superintendent position has been open since June 2013 when the board voted to terminate superintendent Dr. Martha Liddell after it was learned she had used district funds for private use. Edna McGill has been serving as interim superintendent since Liddell's firing. McGill was one of the applicants for the permanent position but was not chosen as a finalist.
Hickman earned his Doctor of Education in educational leadership from Saint Louis University in 2009.
He currently serves as the assistant superintendent of academic support services in Houston, Texas. In addition, Hickman is the founder and CEO of consulting firm, K-12 Consultants. According to his resume, the district is the seventh largest district in the United States with approximately 300 schools and 210,047 students. He has served in that position since August 2013.
Prior to his current role, Hickman served as assistant superintendent/director of education at a charter school in Kansas City, Missouri, from July 2012 to August 2013.
He was the principal of an elementary school in Joliet, Illinois, from July 2009 to July 2010 and principal of another elementary school in Aurora, Illinois, from July 2008 to July 2009.
From July 2007 to July 2008, Hickman was the assistant principal of a Belleville, Illinois, middle school. From July 2005 to July 2007, he served as a dean of students at an Illinois high school. Prior to his time in administration, Hickman worked as a school psychologist at two different Illinois schools. He served at one school from 2002 to 2005 and another from 2001 to 2002.
Fonseca has a Doctor of Education in educational leadership. He is currently pursuing postdoctoral studies in the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Fonseca is serving as the interim superintendent of Watauga County Schools in Boone, North Carolina. He has served in that role since June 2013.
He was assistant superintendent of that district from October 2012 to May 2013.
He served as assistant superintendent for instructional services of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School District from December 2011 to September 2012.
From July 2008 to November 2011, Fonseca served as principal of a middle school in Newton, North Carolina. He was the assistant principal of a North Carolina elementary school from July 2004 to June 2008. From August 2002 to June 2004, Fonseca's resume said he served as assistant principal of an elementary school in Spencer, North Carolina. From July 2000 to July 2002, he was the assistant principal of a middle school in Gastonia, North Carolina.
He served as teacher and principal intern in Gastonia from July 1995 to June 2000. Fonseca also served as the Foreign Language Department Chair in Gaston from August 1996 to June 2000.
He began his teaching career in 1992.
The position of superintendent pays $175,000 as well as a benefits package, but according to the advertisement on search team Ray and Associates' website, the salary "will be negotiated and determined based upon proven experience, qualifications and meeting board criteria."
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.