The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board plans to debate at a special meeting Thursday whether to start advertising for a new superintendent with Bernard Taylor’s three-year contract ending June 30.
“I don’t think it hurts us to get out early. It might hurt us to wait,” board President David Tatman said.
The meeting, which was announced Tuesday afternoon, starts at 5 p.m. at the School Board Office, 1050 S. Foster Drive.
The move makes it more likely that Taylor will leave when his contract ends in June. In December, several board members pushed to extend Taylor’s contract but the effort lacked enough votes to pass and the item was withdrawn. Six months earlier the board voted 10-1 not to extend his contract when it expired.
State law requires that school boards faced with a vacancy and who want a permanent superintendent must, at a minimum, run at least two ads in the designated official journal, in this case The Advocate, at least 30 days before filling the job. The ads must run at least a week apart.
Tatman said he’s not sure how broadly the job will be advertised, but may well include publications other than The Advocate.
“Our intention is not to do the bare minimum,” he said.
The parish School Board has typically hired search firms to conduct nationwide searches when it needed to find a new superintendent. The last local-only search was in January 2002 when the board promoted Clayton Wilcox from interim to permanent superintendent, picking him over 10 other applicants who had responded to ads in The Advocate.
Tatman said he picked three board members to serve on a new “Superintendent Search Process Committee” that will report back with recommendations, perhaps as early as the board’s Feb. 19 regular meeting, on how best to go about a search. The three members are Barbara Freiberg, who was elected board vice president Jan. 15, Connie Bernard and Tarvald Smith, who unsuccessfully sought to be board president or vice president.
“This is about being transparent and open to the public,” Tatman said.
Tatman said the committee, among other things, will make recommendations about how widely to advertise the job and the deadline to apply.
Smith said he envisions having a process that ends with a group of finalists who take part in public interviews.
“I am definitely not for anointing anyone, no matter how good they are, without going through a community vetting process,” Smith said.
Both Tatman and Smith said they would like someone who could start before Taylor leaves so the two can work together to ease the transition.
The board also has the option of picking an interim superintendent, obviating the legal requirement for advertising the job. The board went this route in 2004 and again in 2012. Tatman said he prefers to find a permanent superintendent, but hiring an interim is still a possibility if necessary.
All options are still on the table, Tatman said, though he expressed doubt the board would conduct a national search as it did when it hired Taylor in 2012.
“No one has come to me about hiring a national search firm,” he said.