Search for new superintendent begins in earnest


The Alexandria School Board is in recess for the summer but their work is continuing as they begin to search for the school systems next superintendent. The new superintendent is being sought to replace Rebecca L. Perry, whose contract ends on Ju

ne 30, 2008. The Board voted in May not to renew that contract.

We have a general timeline and to meet the targets on it, we have to begin our work immediately, said Claire Eberwein, who was elected Board Chair at the July 2 organizational meeting.

The first step is recruiting an executive search firm. The Request for Proposal has been sent to a number of nationally known firms and the Board has placed an ad in several large metropolitan newspapers around the country. Bids are due by Aug. 10, at which time a committee of the Board will review proposals and be prepared to make a recommendation to the full Board in September, hopefully at the first meeting on Sept 6, but, at the latest at the meeting on Sept. 20.

The Board is also accepting applications for the Superintendent Search Advisory Committee, which will be comprised of 27 people, representing various community organizations, school system employees and parent groups and individuals who are appointed by Board members. Each Board member will be allowed to select one individual for the committee.

This community group is very important because the members will work with the Search Firm to develop a survey soliciting public input on the characteristics Alexandrians are looking for in a superintendent, Eberwein said. Those who are interested in being on that committee can apply online through the ACPS web site ( or by contacting the Clerk of the Board at 703-824-6614, to obtain an application. Applications are due by Sept. 12, and those individuals who are representing a group must have a letter of endorsement from the presiding officer of that group that is included along with their application.

Once the search firm is hired and the committee appointed, (by Sept. 20) the committee will work with the search firm to develop a survey. The survey will be widely disseminated throughout Alexandria, including through the ACPS web site. Survey results will be tabulated in October and November, and an ad, with specific qualifications, for a new superintendent will be developed and distributed to appropriate media outlets in late November.

During December, the search firm will review resumes and present a group of qualified applicants to the Board. The Board will conduct interviews in December and January and will select three finalists by late January or early February.

In February, Board members and selected members of the advisory committee will travel to the locations where candidates are employed to visit them in their work environment. Finally, the Board will choose a new superintendent and hold contract negotiations, with the goal of having a new leader identified and under contract by March.

We have a lot of work to do in a very short time but, with everyone working together, I am certain we can meet this goal, Eberwein said.

Other summer projects
The Board will hold a work session on Aug. 2, to discuss progress on a new budget format and developing a strategic plan for the school system, something they were criticized for not having in a recent efficiency review, conducted by a contractor, working for the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget. Board Member Eileen Rivera has been asked to put together a timeline for developing this strategic plan.

ACPS staff has been working to redesign the systems budget documents. Eberwein has asked Mayor Bill Euille for help from city staff.

He offered to help us several times during the recent budget process and the city has just redesigned their own format so I am going to accept his very generous offer, she said.

The Board has also been working through a process to learn how to get along with each other better, at an estimated cost of $10,000. The consultant has spoken to each Board member for an hour and will hold individual follow-up conversations with everyone and will make suggestions about how we can communicate with each other more effectively and about Boardsmanship in general.

I have also contacted the Virginia School Boards Association and requested some additional Board training from them. We are trying to schedule that for some time this fall, Eberwein said.

Board members have their new committee assignments. There are three standing committees and each Board member is assigned to one of these. This year, Scott Newsham, Ronnie Campbell and Sheryl Gorsuch will serve on the facilities committee; Arthur Peabody, Eileen Rivera and Charles Wilson on the administration, budget and human resources committee; and Claire Eberwein, Yvonne Folkerts and Blanche Manness on the curriculum committee. These committees will not meet until the Board returns in September.