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Decatur School Board exploring consultant options for superintendent search

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Decatur School Board exploring consultant options for superintendent search

Elizabeth Wilson School Support Center, City Schools of Decatur. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The City Schools of Decatur School Board is looking at three consulting firms to determine who will conduct its superintendent search. The board has heard presentations from McPherson & Jacobson and BWP & Associates during a work session on Feb. 15.

The School Board is interviewing different firms to determine the best fit for finding a permanent superintendent to replace former superintendent David Dude. The current superintendent, Maggie Fehrman, has a short-term contract with the district but has been invited to apply for the job.

At the board’s work session on Jan. 25, the School Board discussed their upcoming superintendent search with the Georgia School Boards Association and learned about GSBA’s process for conducting such a search.

The GSBA has a team of staff members who focus on superintendent searches. GSBA has conducted most searches in the state — about 300 since 1987. GSBA uses a 17-step process, providing various services and support to local school boards to maintain legal compliance and best practice selection techniques as they move through their search process.

At the January work session, the school board had not decided whether it will partner with GSBA. They agreed to seek out other consultants to see how they would conduct the search before making a final decision.

“We wanted to take our time and wait for the GSBA presentation to hear their timeline,” School Board Chair Jana Johnson-Davis previously said. “We didn’t feel confident we had enough time to have someone in place by the beginning of next school year.”

McPherson & Jacobson is a national superintendent search firm based in Omaha, Nebraska. The firm has more than 100 consultants throughout the country. They have been conducting superintendent searches since 1991 and have placed over 750 superintendents and other officials in public and non-profit organizations. The firm has created a five-phase protocol which allows school boards to focus on interviewing and selecting candidates.

BWP & Associates is based in Illinois and has many consultants throughout the country. They have conducted more than 800 searches. The firm assists school boards or administrations to conduct searches for any administrative position through a process designed to meet the unique needs of school communities.

In 2019, BWP and Associates was selected by the DeKalb County School Board to select the district’s superintendent, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

All the consultants would meet with the school board and stakeholders to develop the criteria and characteristics that they would like to see in the next superintendent. From there, they would create the job description and post the job listing on various sites. 

Each firm would then receive the applications and review them and conduct reference checks to narrow down the candidates for the school board to conduct interviews. The consultants would additionally prepare the school board for the interview process, assist with preparing the interview questions, and help schedule the interviews.

The school board would work with the consultants to narrow the candidates down for any additional rounds of interviews and eventually to choose the next superintendent. At that point, the consultants would notify the other candidates of their status in the search process.

The School Board was set to begin the search before the end of the school year, but the board announced on Jan. 19 that it needs more time to hire a permanent replacement for Dude. The board extended Superintendent Fehrman’s contract for one year at the Feb. 8 School Board meeting.

Fehrman took over for former superintendent David Dude in April 2021 after he left the district following months of investigative stories by Decaturish.com that examined allegations raised by the school district’s former human resources director. The School Board gave Fehrman a one-year contract in May 2021.

Fehrman’s new contract, which will begin on July 1, gives her a $10,000 raise, from $190,000 to $200,000. She’s also eligible for a retention bonus of $25,000 if she completes the full term of her contract. She can also get a payment of up to $13,333 if she does not use all 15 of her personal leave days.

Editor Dan Whisenhunt contributed to this article.

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