Durham superintendent search discussion fizzles

Feb. 24, 2014 @ 01:38 PM

A discussion about Durham Public Schools’ fledgling search for a new superintendent sort of fizzled Tuesday after three of the board’s seven members had to leave to tend to other business.

Their departures left the four remaining board members reluctant to move too far ahead in deliberations about the search process without their colleagues.

Besides, Board of Education Chairwoman Heidi Carter and Vice-Chairwoman Minnie Forte-Brown agreed that there is no need to hurry because the school district is in good hands.

“We’re doing all right,” Forte-Brown said. “Our system is doing fine.”

The four members did decide to call a special meeting next month to review five proposals received from firms vying to conduct the superintendent search.

Carter produced the fifth proposal at Tuesday’s meeting.

It came from McPherson & Jacobson LLC., the Omaha, Neb.-based firm that conducted the recent superintendent search for the Wake County school board. 

McPherson & Jacobson’s proposal is the most expensive of the five, with a base amount of $27,500 and $37,880 after expenses.

The other four proposals are:

  • Ray and Associates Inc., of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, would charge $28,000, plus expenses for its services. The price could be lower depending on what level of service the school board selects. The firm, which has offices in Sanford, is currently conducting the executive-director search for Neuse Charter School and previously conducted searches for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Guilford County Schools. It also was one of three search firms that submitted proposals to conduct Durham’s search in 2009.
  • BWP & Associates, of Libertyville, Ill., would charge $26,500, plus expenses that the firm estimates could cost as much as $8,550. The firm boasts of having conducted more than 800 successful executive searches. 
  • North Carolina School Board Association in Raleigh would charge $15,000 for its services, plus any expenses incurred. The $15,000 consulting fee is nearly double the $8,500 fee that the association charged in 2009 when it conducted the Durham search that yielded Eric Becoats, who resigned in December under a cloud of controversy. Over the past 15 years, the association has provided services to 75 North Carolina school boards.
  • PROACT Search of Wilmette, Ill., would charge $25,000 with a one-year guarantee. Its fee includes all travel and ancillary costs, such as advertising. Gary Solomon, the firm’s CEO, and several other members of the firm, authored “Searching for SUPER: What Every Board Should Know Before Starting the Superintendent Search Process,” which members of the Durham school board have been reading in advance of the search process.

In other business, the board received an update on the status of the adopted budget, complete with a Budget Resolution Amendment adjusting account balances through Jan. 31.

The board also received a report on the school district’s Information Technology Plan for 2014-16 and one on the proposed sale of its Morris Street Facility to low-bidder Measurement Inc., for $901,200.

The district received no upset bids for the property. The money from the sale will be spent of critical capital needs in the school district.