By CARL SMITH
Starkville School District Assistant Superintendent Walter Gonsoulin says his dream is to guide a school district as its leader.
His wish came true Friday.
The Fairfield, Ala. City Schools board voted unanimously to approve Gonsoulin as its next superintendent yesterday. Gonsoulin said he expects to start the job in early June and will leave SSD near the first of the same month.
The Starkville administrator said the Fairfield City Schools serves approximately 1,800 students with three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school. He said he applied for the job in February.
The school board and Gonsoulin have not reached terms on a contract, but he said they are discussing a deal near $164,000 which includes base pay, an insurance package and a housing allowance.
Gonsoulin recently emerged as the district’s sole preferred candidate after Fairfield board members visited SSD and followed up on his application. He said he is appreciative of the board’s unanimous support.
“Getting the OK (from the school board) means everything to me. I think they saw from my resume that I’m very capable of running this district,” Gonsoulin said. “I’m excited about the possibilities of moving in the direction they want to go which is to become a great school district.”
Before his hire, Gonsoulin met with the Fairfield board Thursday night and discussed further points developed in his initial interviews. Following that meeting, local stakeholders were given an opportunity to ask their own questions.
“I highlighted the progress we’ve made at SSD with the dropout and graduation rates, my philosophy and plans for curriculum,” Gonsoulin said. “Parents then had an opportunity to write their questions down on cards. Those questions ranged from parental involvement, accountability, extra curricular plans, discipline and what type of courses we’ll have available for accelerated students.”
Once Gonsoulin was confirmed as the district’s new leader Friday, he immediately began developing a 90-day plan to coincide with his start date. His plan is based upon communication with all of Fairfield’s stakeholders, he said.
“Listening tours are a big part of it,” he said.
The SSD Board of Trustees now must figure out how to conduct an assistant superintendent search while it lacks an active district leader. Incoming SSD Superintendent Lewis Holloway was approved in March to assist the district in an advisory role before his official job starts July 1.