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Ferris hopes to spark interest in search meeting

[01/24/01] At a work session Tuesday night, Grey Ferris, chairman of the Vicksburg Warren School District’s superintendent search committee, urged members to push for a big attendance at next week’s public meeting.

“A couple of hundred people would be a wonderful showing,” he said.

The meeting, set for 7 p.m. Monday at Warren Central High School, will be conducted by Dr. Richard Boyd and Dr. Andy Mullins, consultants from the University of Mississippi hired last year to assist the district in its search for a superintendent. Boyd, former state superintendent of education, and Mullins, former executive in that department, will answer questions about the search process, and the feedback from the meeting will be used when interviewing job applicants.

“What we want is for the community to let us know what they want in a superintendent,” VWSD trustee Kay Aasand said this week. “This is their time to voice their opinion.”

Boyd and Mullins were hired last year to aid trustees in the quest for a superintendent for the 9,200-student district after Robert Pickett’s retirement a year ago. Long-time educator Donald Oakes is interim superintendent and a candidate for the permanent position.

During the last few months, Mullins said, he and Boyd met with the five trustees and the 15-member superintendent search committee twice to discuss the search process. They will talk with administrators and teachers from the school district before the town meeting to determine their expectations for a superintendent.

He and Boyd will listen to the the public at the meeting, and residents will be able to place written comments in a box.

The consultants also plan to talk with a group of randomly selected teachers and administrators from the district before the meeting to determine their expectations for a superintendent, Ferris said.

Search committee member Ronnie Heath said the committee’s role in the interviewing process still has not been defined. Members said they understood that the consultants would videotape applicants during the initial screenings, and those tapes will be available to the Board of Trustees. The trustees then will determine the candidates for the final interviews.

Ferris, former chairman of the state Senate Education Committee and a founding member of the Vicksburg Warren School District’s board, also asked search committee members to develop a few questions for the meeting.

“It’s important for us to be prepared,” he said.

Aasand suggested the public meeting last week after search committee members told school trustees that the search process was being hampered by distrust and miscommunication.

In reference to that exchange, Ferris said Tuesday night he “thought it was a healthy discussion” and that the trustees indicated their desire for an open superintendent search.

“I think we have to take that at face value and trust that’s the case,” he said. “We’re here to support the process, and our sole role is to make sure there is a pool of applicants.”

Aasand said she hoped the public session would “open some lines of communication and let the public know what’s going on” in the search for a permanent superintendent.

“Hopefully, it will make the process a little better,” she said.