School board to discuss superintendent search
School board Chairwoman Heidi Carter said Thursday the board will likely hold a special meeting in two weeks to discuss the next steps for replacing Superintendent Eric Becoats who resigned last month after a tumultuous year at the top of the school district.
Carter had hoped to have the special meeting next week but not all board members were able to attend.
“I really want everyone to be there,” Carter said.
She said the meeting would allow the board to talk about the methodology for selecting Becoats’ replacement and the attributes it wants the next superintendent to possess.
“I think we will look at this as an opportunity to get a superintendent that has all of the qualities we seek,” Carter said.
She said she expects a strong pool of candidates because of all that Durham has to offer.
Carter noted Durham’s location in the Research Triangle, its diversity, great universities, big-time college athletics and impressive arts community.
“I think this should be an attractive job for someone,” Carter said. “The quality of life is very high.”
Depending on when the search is officially launched, the board could be pressed to name a new superintendent before the May 6 school board election when four of the board’s seven seats will be up for grabs.
The board hired the N.C. School Board Association to help it in the 2010 search that delivered Becoats to Durham Public Schools.
The association was chosen from among four groups seeking the search contract at prices that ranged from $8,500 to $31,000 plus expenses.
The board went with the association’s less expensive fee of $8,500.
School board Vice Chairwoman Minnie Forte-Brown, a member of the association’s board of directors, said the association is capable of helping the school district find good candidates for the job.
“I’m certainly going to be in favor of using local,” Forte-Brown said. “I think they can do national searches just like everyone else and they’re cost-effective.”
The association has conducted more than 80 searches in the state – attracting in-state and national candidates -- over the past 10 years, helping boards draft vacancy announcements, ads and conducting community surveys.
It also arranges interviews, assists with drafting interview questions and checking references, arranging background checks and protecting candidates’ confidentiality.
According to the association’s website, there are five vacant superintendent’s posts in North Carolina not including the Durham vacancy, which became official Dec. 31.
The other superintendent vacancies are Asheboro City Schools, Edenton-Chowan Schools, McDowell County Schools, Watauga County Schools and Whiteville City Schools.
Becoats announced his plans to resign Dec. 19 after a series of high-profile missteps, including misstating the amount of money the district had in its unassigned fund balance by more than $15 million.
The decision to resign came just weeks after the board unanimously voted to not extend Becoats’ contract or to give him a pay increase.