May 17, 2013 11:53:22 AM
JACKSON -- Mississippi could choose its new state superintendent of education by October.
The state Board of Education agreed in a Thursday discussion to take applications for the post from early June through early September, with plans to interview finalists in late September and reach a contract with a new leader by October.
The department has been led by interim Superintendent Lynn House since Tom Burnham resigned nearly a year ago. House is not a candidate for the permanent post.
Consultant Gary Ray and his employees will survey educational leaders and associations about what they want to see in the next superintendent, drawing up a profile that the board could approve by the end of the month. The candidate pool would be winnowed to a group of 8 to 12 people, with the board making its selection after one or two rounds of interviews in September.
Board member Charles McClelland, of Jackson, said he'd like to expedite the process because he fears that candidates might not want to leave their current jobs in the middle of the fall semester. But Ray told board members through a video conference that because many school personnel would be on vacation during the summer, his firm needed the full 90 days to publicize the opening and recruitment of candidates.
"The summer time is a difficult time to recruit because a lot of people are just not around," Ray said. He agreed that the planned schedule might mean the next superintendent won't start work until early 2014.
The state is paying Ray and Associates, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, more than $38,000 to help with the search.