The executive committee of the Ascension Parish School Board recommended hiring an Iowa-based firm to assist in the search for the district’s next schools superintendent.

While assistant superintendent A. Denise Graves acts as superintendent in the interim, the board is hoping to have a new superintendent in place by July or earlier to fill the spot left vacant when Patrice Pujol retired at the end of February.

On Tuesday, the executive committee heard presentations from two national search firms: McPherson Jacobson of Omaha, Nebraska, and Ray and Associates of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The committee chose Ray and Associates, with board members saying they are impressed with the company’s emphasis on aggressive recruiting.

The School Board will vote on the recommendation at its March 15 meeting. It’s likely the board will be giving the thumbs up to Ray and Associates — all 11 board members were present at Tuesday’s meeting of the three-member executive committee.

Ray and Associates quoted a base fee of $22,500, with additional expenses depending on what other services the School Board might want to include.

Ray and Associates representative Bill Newman, of Arkansas, a former schools superintendent in Iowa, said those additional expenses typically fall in the $5,000 range.

Newman said the company would interview board members to learn their priorities for the criteria for the superintendent position, as well as get input from the community, both online and through public meetings.

The company would manage the candidate screening process, as well as conduct background checks, Newman said.

Newman said school superintendents who may apply are often under contract until June 30 with their school districts.

“Bear in mind, you want to hire someone who has a good job already,” he said.