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Decatur School Board to work with Georgia School Board Association on superintendent search

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Decatur School Board to work with Georgia School Board Association on superintendent search

The Decatur School Board met on Tuesday, April 12, at the Wilson Center to discuss the superintendent search, the budget and grading. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Decatur, GA — The City Schools of Decatur School Board has decided to work with the Georgia School Board Association to conduct its search for the next superintendent.

In January and February, the board met with the GSBA and consultants from McPherson & Jacobson and BWP & Associates to explore their options of firms that could find 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.

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.

All three firms would perform some of the same services, although McPherson & Jacobson and BWP & Associates would conduct focus groups, whereas the GSBA would send out a survey to stakeholders to gather feedback on what the community would like to see in the next superintendent.

School Board Chair Jana Johnson-Davis said, at the April 12 board meeting, that GSBA would consider leading focus groups. It would be about $770 to $1,500 per session on top of their initial package. The cost would depend on how many facilitators are needed to lead the focus groups.

“It could potentially be up to three sessions. If we did three sessions at the higher end of the scale at $1,500, that would be $4,500 plus the initial flat fee of $7,500 will put us at $12,000 for the Georgia School Board Association,” Johnson-Davis said. “McPherson & Jacobson and BWP & Associates are $21,000.”

School board Vice Chair James Herndon said he was impressed with the GSBA’s flexibility to consider focus groups and liked the board has a relationship with the organization.

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,” 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.”

Editor Dan Whisenhunt contributed to this article.

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