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Second interviews for school chief candidates set

At least two members of the Grady County Board of Education want to take the time necessary to give “due diligence” to the superintendent search before making any final decisions.
Board members met last Wednesday in Thomasville to interview four candidates for the superintendency. The board also picked out two other candidates who could be interviewed in the next several days.
Grady County Board of Education Chairman Drew Pyrz reported this week that second interviews with two of the candidates interviewed last week will be held Monday at the VanLandingham Center in Cairo.
According to Chairman Pyrz, one interview will be conducted at 8:30 a.m. and the second at 1:30 p.m.
“Depending on how the interviews lead, we may want to carry the candidates to some of the schools to get a flavor of our system and the community,” Chairman Pyrz said.
Following the 1:30 p.m. interview, the board will also discuss the possibility of scheduling interviews with the two candidates the board highlighted, but did not have time to interview last week during the marathon session at Southwest Georgia Technical College.
Georgia School Boards Association consultant Bill Sampson assisted the board in the interview session last week but, according to Chairman Pyrz, he will not be involved in the second interviews next week.
“We need to do our due diligence and find a proper superintendent,” Chairman Pyrz said.
The only two members of the current board to have experience with a superintendent search are Chairman Pyrz and veteran board member Teresa Gee Harris.
Board member Harris has been vocally opposed to the perceived rush to name a new superintendent.
“I am about to vote on one of the most critical positions in Grady County – the superintendent. This is a serious appointment and we, as board members, should not take it lightly,” Ms. Harris said.
The veteran board member, who has been involved in the selection of two superintendents, said the majority of the board has limited experience on the school board and no experience in a superintendent search.
“I would think the public would demand the board take the time necessary to review all of the applications before making a final decision,” Ms. Harris said.
She told The Messenger this week that board members Jeff Worsham, Allen Jenkins and Vice Chairman Scott Higginbotham are “rushing” through the process.
Vice Chairman Higginbotham, in particular, has pushed a timeline that would have resulted in the board naming its superintendent finalists by April 1 so that a new superintendent could be named by April 15.
Grady County School Superintendent Dr. Tommy Pharis, who in January announced his plans to retire this year, is under contract to serve as superintendent through June 30, 2013.
Ms. Harris is encouraging citizens to speak out and to publicly request the board take the time necessary to make a wise decision before voting on the next school superintendent.
The school system’s central office is closed this week for spring break, but Ms. Harris says it will be open from 8 a.m. until noon Thursday, during which time citizens could request to be placed on the public participation section of the agenda for the board’s April meeting next Tuesday night.
“It is important that we put the education of our children first above any personal agendas. It is important for the board to hear from the community,” she said.
If citizens do not wish to address the board in a public meeting, she suggested they write letters or email the members of the school board.
The board has delayed Superintendent Pharis from making recommendations for central office and administrators for the 2013-2014 school year. Traditionally, recommendations for central office and administrators take place at the March meeting.
For the past two years, recommendations for teaching positions have been made at the May school board meeting. However, Dr. Pharis says that recommendations for the teaching staff will be made next week during the board’s April meeting.
School system professional employees who are not notified of contract nonrenewal in writing by May 15 are automatically renewed, according to Dr. Pharis.
In addition to principals, the board is holding the superintendent back from making recommendations to renew contracts for the school system’s instructional coordinators.

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