The Limestone County Board of Education could vote on an interim superintendent and the process the board will use to find a permanent replacement at its Oct. 15 meeting.
Board members discussed the options available in the search for both positions during a work session Tuesday. Current Limestone County Schools Superintendent Tom Sisk recently announced he will be taking a position as director of Bristol City Schools in Bristol, Tennessee, leaving board members about a month to find someone who can temporarily fill the spot.
They then have 180 days to find someone to take Sisk's position on a more permanent basis.
“We could have a superintendent chosen by the end of January,” board chairman Bret McGill said. “I think, realistically, we could have a person starting by March or April.”
First, however, the board must decide if they will allow someone from inside or outside the system to be interim. Board member Charles Shoulders supported using a current Limestone County Schools employee.
“If we choose someone on the inside, they already have a feel (for the district) and know what's happening in Limestone County, and they can pick up right where Dr. Sisk leaves off,” Shoulders said.
McGill explained board members would have to decide how much of a raise the employee would receive and if they would be allowed to apply to be the permanent replacement. To that end, board member Earl Glaze said he would prefer someone outside the district, which would also alleviate the board from having to fill whatever position the employee currently holds.
Glaze and Shoulders each said the options may lead potential applicants to think the board is favoring the interim superintendent for Sisk's permanent replacement, because the interim would be someone the board is possibly familiar with and/or someone with up to six months of extra experience in the role.
McGill said appointing an interim they already favor for the permanent position is a valid option. The board would still be required to advertise the open position for 30 days, but he said the advertisement could be worded in a way that would discourage applicants.
Alternatively, the board could appoint a retired superintendent — someone who is familiar with the role but not interested in being a permanent replacement. McGill promoted the option as a good one if board members agreed to let the Alabama Association of School Boards provide a list of candidates.
“If we choose to let the AASB give us three names, then we're going to want someone who is a retired superintendent,” McGill said. “They can only have $32,000 a year, they're not interested in the job full-time — we can put that stipulation on someone outside our system.”
He explained the income limit applied to the calendar year, meaning a retired superintendent in the interim position could earn $32,000 this year and another $32,000 before the replacement begins. However, Chief School Financial Officer Kim Hubbard pointed out the person would not be able to earn a full $32,000 this year if they had previously worked for pay in another school district in the state as a retired employee.
In discussing which option would work best, board members also discussed the possibility of contacting retired superintendents in the area themselves, without going through AASB. This option was promoted as one that could best fit all concerns — no need to fill a new vacant position, no vote on a raise, no vote on whether the interim could apply for the permanent position and no having an interim who is unfamiliar with the area or district needs.
Meanwhile, board members could use AASB to help find the permanent replacement. McGill said he had been contacted by a group from Nebraska and had information on other organizations that would charge an hourly rate to assist in the search, while AASB was an in-state organization that would charge a flat rate to find the district's next superintendent.
“They've done a good job for us before,” McGill said.
The board will next meet 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15. The meeting is public.