The hunt for a transformational leader of Atlanta Public Schools moved forward Thursday, with superintendent candidates being targeted from across the country.
Many of the candidates for the difficult job already know about the challenges and strengths of Atlanta’s school system, said Sam Pettway, founding director of BoardWalk Consulting, the company that’s leading the search in partnership with Diversified Search.
“The school system is highly visible in the field nationally. … There’s an image out there, and in many cases it’s an asset. In some cases it’s a challenge,” Pettway told the Superintendent Search Committee in an update on the application process.
Superintendent Erroll Davis plans to retire next year after taking over Atlanta’s school system in July 2011, when results of a state investigation into widespread cheating on standardized tests were released. Davis replaced Beverly Hall, who faces criminal charges related to allegations of cheating by educators who are accused of inflating their students’ scores.
Some of the potential superintendents come from 10 or so school districts with a national reputation for educational excellence, said Ann Cramer, the chairwoman of the search committee.
“Those are some of the first pools to look for leadership. We’re looking for someone who has the context to know where we are and how to move forward,” she said.
None of those school districts or candidates was identified.
Nominations should be received by Nov. 1, although applications will still be accepted afterward. Then the search committee will interview candidates and present a handful of finalists to the Atlanta Board of Education, which will likely make a decision early next year.
“We need someone who knows the system and knows the problems,” said Checha Reddy, a grandparent of Atlanta kindergartners who attended the search meeting. “I don’t mean someone in the school system, but someone who knows the people and the community. I don’t think we need to go outside Atlanta.”
The search discussion came after Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, and others questioned who will fund the $146,000 endeavor. The Board of Education, at its regular monthly meeting Monday, plans to discuss whether Atlanta Public Schools will pick up the search tab or rely on private contributions.
Strong candidates have already been found, Pettway said.
“We may have already identified the next superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. We don’t know yet,” he said.