Board to pick superintendent search firm Thursday

Published 1:07 pm Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Picking a professional search firm to recruit a new superintendent for the Vicksburg Warren School District will be on the agenda Thursday night as the district’s trustees hold their regular meeting.

Trustees will meet Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at 1500 Mission 66.

Three organizations have made presentations pitching their services to replace Superintendent Dr. James Price, who is retiring June 30 after seven years at the head of the 9,000-student district.

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Trustees are also expected to name new elementary school principals to replace Jack Grogan at Beechwood and Charles “Bubba” Hanks at Redwood, who will also retire at the end of the year.

Price said today he will make recommendations for those posts during the meeting.

In a called meeting Tuesday, the board met with the president of Omaha-based McPherson and Jacobson Executive Recruitment and Development, the third firm to make a pitch.

“Recruitment is crucial if you want to complete the process this spring,” said Dr. Tom Jacobson, a former classroom teacher, principal and superintendent who started the firm about 20 years ago and has helped place more than 350 superintendents nationwide.

McPherson and Jacobson charges $14,500 for its four-phased slate of search processes, Jacobson said. An optional fifth phase is an additional $2,000.

The company prides itself on “transparency,” he said, including “the open and meaningful involvement of stakeholders” — community groups, administrative staff, teachers and even students.

Price announced his retirement in March. After, trustees, who are elected from supervisor districts, voted to hire a search consultant.

Representatives from Educational CEO Search Inc., based in Atlanta, and the Mississippi School Boards Association already have made offers, but terms were not disclosed.

MSBA Executive Director Dr. Michael Waldrop provided a potential contract last week to board attorney, state Sen. Briggs Hopson, who turned it over to the district. Board president Zelmarine Murphy said Tuesday that trustees had not seen the contract’s proposed fees.

Educational CEO did not provide a cost estimate, Murphy said, but the information will be obtained before Thursday’s meeting.

Trustees have said they want to have a new superintendent in place July 1, but after Jacobson’s presentation Murphy said she would like to hear a discussion at Thursday’s meeting of the pros and cons of trying to meet that deadline.

All three presenters have told board members the preferred timeline is tight but can be met. MSBA and McPherson and Jacobson also said they maintain a database of qualified individuals willing and able to step in as interim superintendent.

Price, the district’s fifth superintendent since its formation in 1987 from the merger of city and county schools, was paid $104,000 when hired and has received a number of salary increases since, to his current $140,000.