Leader Blues

Friday, February 12, 2010

TOP STORY >> PCSSD ready for decision

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

Buses ran and school was back in session Friday for the first time in almost a week at Pulaski County Special School District, which will also have classes Monday.

As Presidents Day, Monday would have been a day off for students and a workshop or meeting day for teachers, but now the district needs to hold school because students have been out of school because of the bad weather.

Snow and ice have played havoc with schooling and administrating at PCSSD and all area districts this week.

Not only have students missed four days of school—days that must be made up—but the weather forced cancellation of the regularly scheduled school board meeting Tuesday and also further interviews of the four finalists in line to become the next PCSSD superintendent.

Right now, the board is tentatively set to discuss on Monday the four candidates, all of whom visited the district during the first week of February, and the regular board meeting is tentatively set for Wednesday, according to Deborah Roush, district spokesman. Roush said the board is not expected to make a decision by the Monday meeting and that so far, hiring or offering the job is not on the agenda for the rescheduled regular meeting Wednesday.

The board chose to interview and consider four finalists from a short list prepared by the executive search firm McPherson and Jacobson.

Three of the four finalists are also finalists in superintendent searches in other states, according to published reports. Rob McGill, PCSSD’s interim superintendent, who is the fourth finalist, is not a candidate elsewhere.

Tom Jacobson, a search-firm founder, has said PCSSD needs to act quickly, but board members want to consider the evaluations of groups of principals and teachers before making a choice, Roush said. Roush said the board seems intent upon making a good, well-informed choice.

“The board has been trying to meet and trying to meet,” Roush said, but the weather has interfered with efforts to get board members together.

“This is our sixth day,” Roush said. “The last day of school would have been June 1. Now students have to make up five more days. Otherwise the last day of school will be June 8.”

Roush said teachers and members of the support staff unions had agreed to make Monday a school day, and all were considering holding classes on Good Friday and also on another teacher work day.

“We need as many classroom days as possible before the April benchmark tests,” she said.

In addition to McGill, the finalists for the job are Vashti K. Washington, who is associate superintendent of the Charleston County South Carolina School District, Charles L. Hopson and Roy “Cole” Pugh.

Hopson, an Arkansas native who taught at Northwood Middle School, is deputy superintendent for district-wide programs in Portland, Ore.

Pugh is superintendent of Eagle Mountain—Saginaw School District in Texas.