A national search firm recently hired to find Baton Rouge’s next school superintendent plans to explain Thursday how it will conduct the search to replace John Dilworth.

Last month, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board voted to hire PROACT of Wilmette, Ill., and capped the firm’s fee at $30,000.

“They are supposed to go over the protocol of the search, and explain how they are going to handle it,” board President Barbara Freiberg said Wednesday.

PROACT beat out two other search firms: McPherson & Jacobson, and Ray & Associates.

In its proposal, PROACT laid out an 81-day timeframe for the search, meaning it will likely have finalists for the board by late November or early December.

The firm had originally proposed a fee of $32,500, but indicated it was willing to charge less because the process is expected to be less involved than originally anticipated.

The two sides settled on a contract earlier this month.

Freiberg said that she and Domoine Rutledge, general counsel for the school system, were able to persuade PROACT to charge no more than $30,000, which includes travel and expenses by PROACT representatives.

The board, however, would have to pay more for any additional travel, Freiberg said. For instance, in the 2009 superintendent search, some board members traveled to the home cities of the two finalists before setting on Dilworth.

In May, Dilworth announced he won’t stay beyond his three-year contract, which expires in June.

Since Wednesday, board members have been talking one by one with representatives of PROACT to discuss what the board members are looking for in a superintendent.

At the Aug. 19 board meeting, the board agreed on 16 characteristics it wants in its next superintendent. The characteristics were mostly developed in the 2009 search.

Board member Craig Freeman said he was called Wednesday by company representatives and had a 20-minute interview. He said he was asked if he wanted anything special in the next superintendent.

“I joked with them we’d like someone who can walk on water, turn water into wine, someone who could start tomorrow, and someone we could pay $10,” Freeman said.

Still to be determined is what role — if any — members of the local community will play in the search.

Freiberg has been floating the idea of having a citizens’ committee that would serve as a go-between for the board and the community, but on Wednesday she was skeptical the idea would pass muster.

“We’re still talking about how that process might work, but it seems to me that the majority of the board is not in favor of this intermediary group that might vet candidates,” Freiberg said.

“I wouldn’t be comfortable with letting other people getting involved in the decision-making process,” said board member Jerry Arbour, who served as board president during the 2009 search.

Instead, Arbour suggested having teams of citizens go visit the home districts of the candidates, and then have the citizens report to the board before the board begins interviewing candidates.

PROACT handled the 2005 search that led to the hiring of Chief Academic Officer Bob Stockwell. It also handled the 2010 search that ended with the rehiring of current Chief Academic Officer Herman Brister Sr.