By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – For the third time in just over five years, the school district board of trustees has hired the Mississippi School Board Association to assist in the search for a new superintendent.
Current superintendent, Kim Chrestman, announced his retirement Monday, Feb. 2, at the regular monthly meeting of the board. Chrestman will have served four years as head of the local schools when he retires in June.
The board met in a special called session last Friday to approve a contract with the MSBA.
Several items, including having a representative meet with the board and holding public forums, were omitted from the contract to speed up the process.
“We need the candidates as quickly as we can get them,” explained Trustee Lamar Burgess.
Board president Taylor Trusty told the Herald that time is of the essence in order to get a new superintendent in place by June 30. “We are dispensing with some of the preliminary things and the stake-holders meeting is one of the things we aren’t going to do this time,” he said and noted that input from the public is welcome.
“We’re always available,” added Trustee Pierce Epes.
During the first search, which began in 2009, board members said that the decision to hire the MSBA at a cost of $9,500 was designed to curtail politics and provide a quality applicant pool.
“This helps elevate the search above politics,” said Dr. E. Harold Fisher, former president of the National School Boards Association and the Mississippi School Boards Association. Fisher was employed by the MSBA and assisted with the first search.
The MSBA will publicize the vacancy, qualify the candidates and present the final list of qualified candidates to the school board. They will not make a recommendation on which applicant to hire.