The Jefferson Parish Public School System is the state's largest, with nearly 50,000 students and some 7,000 employees. But as of Friday, only two people had expressed an interest in leading it.
If all goes as planned, one of those two will be picked on March 5.
School system staff told the School Board on Friday that only two people had submitted applications to be the system's next superintendent. Applications only had to be postmarked by Friday, however, so it's possible a few more will arrive early next week.
The two applications were from current DeSoto Parish School Superintendent Cade Brumley and former Jefferson Parish principal and administrator Glenn Mayeaux.
At a special meeting Friday, the board voted to publish the applicants' credentials next week and hold public interviews March 5. A vote on the system's next superintendent then is likely to come that same day.
The low number of applicants and the quick timeline drew criticism from one board member.
"What they are telling you by this short timetable," said Marion "Coach" Bonura, "is that it's a done deal."
Bonura has repeatedly complained that a majority of the board members have already decided they want Brumley and that the search is a charade.
Bonura, along with fellow members Cedric Floyd and Ricky Johnson, voted against the proposed timetable.
Floyd proposed delaying a decision until April, which he said was similar to the timeline the last time the board hired a superintendent, in 2015.
Board President Mark Morgan, however, said he wasn't troubled by the low number of applicants, and noted that no one on the board had argued for conducting a broader search.
"There was no indication from anybody up here to go out for a national search," Morgan said. "You didn't even hear that today."
In fact, Morgan said, it was likely Bonura who was to blame for so few applicants.
"It's due to the fact that Mr. Bonura said the fix was in and not to apply," Morgan said. "I wish he hadn't said that."
Whoever is hired will take over a system that has been marked for several months by turmoil, especially on the board.
In the fall, Floyd called for an investigation into possible violations by Superintendent Isaac Joseph of board policy and state law, a move that helped hasten Joseph's departure. The nature of the possible violations has never been publicly revealed.
In the fall, voters rejected an 8.45-mill property tax that would have paid for employee raises. A consultant hired by the board is going to recommend approaching voters with a new millage proposal to help fund facility upgrades. Meanwhile, all nine board members are up for re-election in the fall.
The board on Friday named current operations chief Lale Geer as acting superintendent while the search is ongoing.
Geer will take over the school system after Joseph's departure on Wednesday.
Geer is a 27-year veteran of the Jefferson Parish system. He taught at both the elementary and middle school levels and was an elementary principal before becoming a principal at West Jefferson High School.
He then joined the administration as director of transportation before taking over the entire operations portfolio, which includes facilities, transportation, food services, technology, warehouse services, and emergency and risk management.
Geer said his sole focus would be on making sure the school system staff remain focused on educating students and ensuring a smooth transition to the next superintendent.
"I'm a third-grade teacher," he said. "Everything we do affects the classroom."