The Durham Board of Education has set Wednesday, April 19, as the date of a special meeting to discuss “next steps” in the wake of Superintendent Bert L’Homme’s announcement this month that he will retire in August.
School board Chairman Mike Lee had called an emergency meeting for April 6 to discuss L’Homme’s retirement and how the board would proceed to find a replacement, but canceled it after learning the superintendent’s announcement didn’t legally qualify as an emergency and a special meeting would require at minimum a 48-hour notice.
L’Homme stunned the school board and the community April 3 when he shared his retirement plans in closed session following a board work session. Lee said Monday that the special meeting will give the board an opportunity to discuss publicly how it plans to proceed in filling the vacancy.
He said the board will discuss such issues as how to develop a profile for a new superintendent and whether to hire an executive search firm. The board used an executive search firm in 2014 when it hired L’Homme.
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On Monday, Lee reitereated that he would like a superintendent in place sooner rather than later, possibly by the start of traditional calendar schools in August.
“I think you’re probably going to hear some opposing views, but I’m standing firm in wanting to get someone in sooner,” Lee said.
Whatever is decided, Lee has said the process for identifying the next superintendent will be rigorous so the board is in position to select the “best person to meet the needs of the Durham of community.”
He said the community will have plenty of chances over the next several months to weigh in on the process and to give the board ideas about the kind of superintendent they think the community needs.
“We want to be transparent as possible and we want to have plenty of community input,” Lee said.
He noted earlier this month that L’Homme’s announcement, coming as it did in early April near the end of the school year, gives the board an excellent chance to hire a great superintendent.
In a statement announcing his plans to retire, L’Homme cited the changing “landscape of public education” for his decision to retire before the end of his contract.
“In January, I realized that I likely will not have the physical or mental energy to respond to those challenges, while at the same time dramatically accelerating our academic growth, for the duration of my contract,” L’Homme said.
L’Homme, 67, was hired to lead the school district in June 2014 at a salary of $225,000 a year.
His contract was amended last August to extend through June 2020.