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Our View: Searching for leaders




The three executive searches going on in the Triangle offer a study in contrasts. 


We''re referring to school superintendents in Columbus and Starkville and a police chief in Columbus. 


Tuesday night, the Mississippi School Boards Association hosted one of those requisite feel-good public meetings to get community input on the qualities we want to see in the next Columbus city schools superintendent. 


Nearly 50 community members attended, a heavy turnout for a district that usually draws meager numbers for meetings. Many of the suggestions were relevant though predictable -- financially savvy, visionary, innovative, student-oriented. 


However, a suspicious number of speakers offered suggestions that the next superintendent should be a grant writer and knowledgeable about Common Core Standards, as they read from papers they brought to the microphone with them. If we didn''t know better, we''d suspect them as shills for the interim superintendent, a former grant writer for the district. 


It was a far cry from the Starkville School District''s community-input meeting for its superintendent search, where attendees called for a dynamic, open superintendent who can build morale.  


By contrast, in Columbus, the mayor and city council are recruiting a panel of 18 community members, of diverse backgrounds and interests, to volunteer their services in vetting candidates for the next police chief. 


There are several positives here. In addition to saving tax dollars, a local selection committee already would have a good sense of the pulse of the community, not to mention a vested interest in the outcome. The Columbus and Starkville school boards should take note. 


In Starkville, the search for superintendent seems to be moving more deliberately than in Columbus. They are using the same agency and paying the same fee. 


Maybe it''s because the interim superintendent, Beth Sewell, was named to the post with the understanding that her interim status was just that; whereas, in Columbus, Interim Superintendent Dr. Martha Liddell has made her desire for the job well known. 


Or maybe it''s because, in Starkville, the public is just relieved to be a part of the process after being left out of it when Judy Couey was appointed superintendent from in house, without a thorough search. 


If we may again state the obvious: These positions are all vital to the welfare of our communities. We urge those entrusted with these hiring decisions to insist on excellence.



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Reader Comments

Article Comment kat commented at 9/15/2011 3:37:00 PM:

Considering what has happened in the past in Columbus, I'm doubtful that the search. will be fair and balanced. It will probably end up being just another "good ole' boy " or "girl" jamboree ...


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 9/16/2011 10:42:00 AM:

Shouldn't that read "searching for butt kissers"? Must be a typo.


Article Comment readaboutit commented at 9/17/2011 10:02:00 PM:

honestly, I am glad to be resident of another county so I do not have to be part of the city of columbus as they continue to let Robert Smith "run" their city!where is the democracy???????????


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