Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Covington limits superintendent hunt

Interim chief impresses school board

By Lori Hayes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — The Covington school board isn't casting a very wide net in its search for the district's next superintendent, increasing the already good chance that interim Superintendent Jack Moreland will get the job.

        Although Mr. Moreland has not formally put his name in the hat, board members have said they're impressed with the job he has done so far and would like him to continue running the district.

        Mr. Moreland has been at the helm since former Superintendent James Kemp resigned in June. Mr. Moreland has been leading efforts to reform Covington's schools, some which have posted the lowest test scores in the state.

He "raises the bar'
               Monday, board members stopped just short of calling Mr. Moreland a shoo-in, saying he would be a strong candidate and a tough act to follow. He is the former chief of Dayton, Ky., schools.

        “When you have someone in the position who is doing the job that you want done, that raises the bar for everybody,” said board member Col Owens.

        Board members began the search last weekend, outlining the criteria they're looking for in their next leader. That list of requirements is expected to be approved Thursday.

        Mr. Moreland has been tight-lipped about whether he'll seek the job. He said Monday that he'll decide after Thursday's board meeting.

        Board members tentatively decided to conduct an in-state search, seeking applicants who have been superintendents or assistant superintendents in Kentucky. They want someone who is familiar with the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) and someone with experience in urban schools.

        “If you hire somebody from out of state, these individuals have to take time away from running the school district to learn about KERA and Kentucky laws. It's a waste of time and money,” said board member William Fitzgerald.

Committee forming
               “With the problems our school district has had, we want somebody who's ready to roll. We want someone who knows the system.”

        Thursday, the board is also expected to approve the members of the superintendent screening committee. The committee, required by state law, comprises a parent, two teachers, a principal, a staff member and a board member.

        The group will review applicants and make a recommendation to the board. However, the board is not obligated to follow the committee's recommendation.

        The board plans to begin advertising the job next week, taking applications through January with hopes of hiring someone by April1. Mr. Moreland's interim contract expires March 31.

        Despite their support of Mr. Moreland, board members said they will consider every applicant carefully.

        “Jack Moreland has done an outstanding job. But to be fair, there should be a search,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.

        Under state law, school boards have to conduct a formal search when hiring a superintendent. Covington, however, decided not to hire an independent consultant to run the search, instead relying on district staff.

        The Kentucky School Boards Association recommends a nationwide search when picking a superintendent because of the tight market. However, many Kentucky boards chose to look within the state, wanting someone with knowledge of KERA, said Brad Hughes, a spokesman for the school boards association.


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