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Search for new school superintendent begins; Dyer to retire in 2014

POSTED: June 8, 2013 12:42 a.m.

Gainesville City Board of Education members discussed the pending search for a new superintendent at Friday’s board retreat.

The meeting focused on the development of the superintendent’s profile, listing what qualities and experience the board would want to have in the person in that role. Several suggestions were brought forth, stemming from answers received at previous focus group meetings.

Current superintendent Merrianne Dyer is expected to retire in April 2014. Board member Sammy Smith said the board hopes to announce her replacement by December.

“I can’t say there were any surprises during the meetings,” Chairwoman Maria Calkins said. “Nothing really came out of left field.”

Board member David Syfan agreed, noting that involvement on the part of the superintendent was important to the majority of responses.

“They wanted someone involved in the community,” he said.

Syfan noted that, if a hire is made from outside the area, emphasis might be placed on someone with prior administrative experience.

“I feel like we’ve got to have someone who has some district office experience so that they’re not learning the community and the job at the same time,” he said. “They’ve got to have the strengths already of having some administrative knowledge at the district level, because they’re going to have a big learning curve coming from outside, in learning the community, and the principals and the teachers.”

On the other hand, he noted that someone hired from inside the community wouldn’t have that learning curve, and would theoretically be able to spend more time in learning the administrative role.

“It’s the whole picture of being somebody who gives back,” Calkins added, in response to the question of whether or not the new superintendent should live in Gainesville’s city limits. The board members agreed that a residence within Hall County could be a negotiable point.

“I feel that’s what makes Gainesville a great place, is that people give as much as they get,” Calkins said. “You can do that from living a little bit farther out. And there are plenty of people who live in the city and don’t do anything. That’s just an address.”

Board members are planning to meet with the Georgia School Boards Association in mid-July to continue developing the profile and search announcement, which will be published in August. The GSBA’s website notes that it provides “technical assistance to local boards at their request to help them organize and conduct a systematic and effective superintendent search.”

During the retreat, Smith pointed out that the board also needs to consider the more practical aspects of the position on top of the qualities and experience expected from applicants.

“Is there a companion profile of salary range, of longevity, is there a house allowance or moving expense allowance?” he asked. “Because these are logical questions.”

Syfan agreed, pointing out that moving expenses should be expected.

“The problem you’re going to get into is that, anyone we want to hire is going to be fairly successful with where they’re at, so they’re leaving a secure situation for an unknown, or somewhat of an unknown,” he said.

Following the hiring of a new superintendent, Dyer would work with her replacement on the transition from January through April, and possibly through June, if is needed.

“We have got to stay on that timeline, and stay on track,” Calkins said about the search process calendar.


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