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BOE receives 11 applications for school superintendent post

Almost a dozen candidates  — include two who are local — have applied to be Pierce County’s new school superintendent and a hire could come by the end of the month.

A total of 11 applications have been received for superintendent. Two of the applicants are from within the system and indications are the board intends to hire locally. Of the 11 applications, only one was from out-of-state.

The Board of Education met yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, March 17, after The Times’ deadline) to interview applicants for the position. Acting school board chairman Duward Boatright indicated the board would likely name finalists for the job then.

Once the board names a finalist or finalists, state law requires the public be notified and a 14 day waiting period observed before a hire is made.

The board has been moving quickly to fill the position.

During a called meeting last Thursday, the board met in closed session for two hours and nine minutes to review applications that were received for the job.

Boatright filled in for Chairperson Linda Zechmann who was out of town for a family medical issue last week. Zechmann participated in the meeting by phone. Second district board member Mitch Hall was ill and was not present at the meeting.

The board then met again in closed session Monday afternoon prior to its budget work session to select candidates it wished to interview for the job. Zechmann and Hall were back for Monday’s meeting. The candidates were interviewed yesterday, Tuesday, March 17.

The board declined to disclose the names of any of the applicants and they are not required to do so by law until they name a finalist(s) for the job. Speculation in the community is that high school principal Dara Bennett and Midway Elementary principal Dr. Walker Todd are the two local applicants for the job. Todd has previously expressed interest in the job. Bennett has declined comment.

The new superintendent will take over for Dr. Kevin Smith who announced in January he would be stepping down when his term expires in June. Smith has served as superintendent for the past three years.

The outgoing superintendent has said he may look for an additional position or he may retire following 39 years in education.

In other business, during Thursday and Monday’s called meetings:

• the board held a pair of closed sessions to discuss personnel. The first closed session lasted 33 minutes. After the session, the board voted to hire Jennifer Morris as a special education teacher at Blackshear Elementary, Angelene Phillips as a teacher at Patterson Elementary and David Morris as a health and physical education teacher at the high school. The J. Morris and D. Morris hires are pending Georgia certification. The board also voted to accept the resignations of Brittini Tuten, a second grade teacher at Blackshear Elementary, and Reba Whitley, school nutrition at Midway Elementary. The board then reconvened into a 27-minute closed session to discuss personnel, reportedly about the superintendent search. No action was taken following the session.

• heard of numerous cancellations including a tour by high school students at Coastal Pines Technical College Tour, prekindergarten registration and lottery and Special Olympics. All of the events were canceled due to the potential threat posted by the coronavirus.

• the board heard the next work session will take place at 8 a.m. Thursday, April 2. The next regular meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, April 13. The regular meeting is moved back a week owing to spring break holidays. The regular meetings will move back to a 7 p.m. start time now that Daylight Savings Time has resumed.