By CARL SMITH
The Starkville School District Board of Trustees could hire a new administrator today after Superintendent Lewis Holloway reveals the preferred candidate for the district’s vacant assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction position.
Holloway will make his recommendation for former assistant administrator Beth Sewell’s position noon today at the Greensboro Center. Sewell’s July departure came after she guided the district as its interim superintendent for almost a year before Holloway officially took over that same month.
Holloway did not identify the candidate but did say she previously served as an assistant superintendent in another school district. Also, Holloway said, the preferred candidate has experience in various district testing and educational programs.
“She has worked with MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) testing, which we’re currently giving in our schools; she’s worked with the Fast ForWord Program and has experience with Reading Street and our computer-assisted learning program. Additionally, she’s been a teacher in both elementary and middle schools, a middle school principal and an assistant superintendent.
“This hiring is important because I think it will be great for our district to have the position filled,” Holloway added. “That allows us to focus more clearly on delivering education.”
Since Sewell’s resignation, Holloway previously said the school district advertised the vacant position, formed a search committee and performed preliminary interviews. In August, Holloway said the search itself could last as late as January due to scheduling conflicts created with candidates and their own school’s academic year.
The search process itself generated in excess of 20 candidates, Holloway said. The preferred candidate emerged from six finalists.
“We’ve been interviewing for the last two months. Trying to find someone with the right fit was somewhat difficult,” he said. “There were good candidates with good skill sets that didn’t fit well with the school district. This person is a great fit with a great background.”
School Board President Keith Coble said he and other board members have been briefed on the preferred candidate’s resume and are expected to take action on the matter today. Holloway said the candidate has visited the school district over the past two school days, and Coble said he met the candidate during Starkville High School’s homecoming football game.
If the board acts accordingly, today’s potential hire would mark the second such move SSD has made this year.
In June, Toriano Holloway was hired, replacing Walter Gonsoulin as assistant superintendent for federal programs and operations. Gonsoulin left his post to lead the Fairfield, Ala. City School District.
In other board business, trustees will consider awarding an almost-$200,000 bid for security fencing around a portion of Starkville High’s campus. Columbus Fence Company delivered the lowest bid of $100,741 plus an alternate project which totals $66,301.
“One of the most important things we’re doing is making this campus safe. Right now, the back and side of campus are open to anyone who can walk up, and that’s not acceptable,” Lewis Holloway said. “This fence should make campus more secure, and that’s our primary goal.”
The board received bids on a similar project in December but tabled action due to high costs associated with additional fencing around an on-campus ditch. The current bid removes the ditch fencing portion of the project, Lewis Holloway said, because district officials see the ditch as a natural barrier.
“We’re trying to be judicious with how much we’re spending, but security is a must,” Coble said.”