School Board outlines search process

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While the Alexandria School Boards vote not to renew Superintendent Rebecca L. Perrys contract was 5-4, the subsequent vote to begin a search for a new leader was unanimous. So, whats next?

Next, the Board will meet to outline the search process, said Board Chairman Arthur Peabody. A search usually takes up to a year, especially allowing for community input, which we will definitely do. The entire process will be defined by July when we recess for the summer.

The first elected School Board began a search for a new superintendent just after they were elected in 1994. The superintendent resigned almost immediately because most of that group had run on a campaign platform of change for the school system, said current Board Member Claire Eberwein, who was also a member of that first elected group. We appointed a qualified internal staff member to be the interim superintendent and began the process.

That process and the process used by the School Board in 2001 when Perry was hired began with the appointment of a Community Advisory Committee. Rodger Digilio was a member of the School Board in both 1994 and 2001 when the searches were conducted.

That community group consisted of 20 to 30 people who represented the broadest crosssection of the community possible, Digilio said. They helped us design a survey that we mailed to as many Alexandria households as possible and the group was involved in establishing qualifications for potential superintendent candidates from the results of those surveys.

Once the surveys were tabulated and qualifications established, the Boards advertised nationally for candidates to lead the school system. In 1994, they received more than 70 applications and in 2001, just over 20. In 1994, we used most of the year to select a superintendent, Eberwein said. We developed surveys and qualifications over the summer, advertised in September and started reviewing applications in October. Over Christmas, we interviewed ten candidates and, in January, 2005, we conducted site visits where our three finalists worked.

Those site visits were conducted by Board members and members of the Community Advisory Committee. Community input was invaluable, Digilio said.
In February, 1995, the Board hired Dr. Herbert Berg, who came to Alexandria from the State of Washington in July of that same year. The process by which Perry was hired was similar but shortened. Berg resigned in March, 2001, and Perry arrived in Alexandria from Mecklenberg County, Virginia, in August.

The previous two Boards hired the Virginia School Boards Association to assist in their superintendent searches and this Board could follow suit or hire a national Executive Search firm. The estimated cost of a national search is $50,000, which is in the ACPS budget.

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