Search for school superintendent underway

The Lakeview High School football team and coaches were recognized for their exceptional season at the Thursday, Dec. 5 school board meeting. The team was treated to a cake and refreshments.

By Juanice Gray, Editor

A criterion is set and the search for a new superintendent of Natchitoches Parish schools is officially underway. The process began when Supt. Dale Skinner announced he will retire when his contract is up in June 2020.

Coach Brandon Helms praised his football team and fellow coaches on a season that took them to the playoffs. “They committed themselves to learning to work as a team and committed to practice during fall break,” he said. The team broke 19 school records and team members were honored with 13 post season awards, to be announced Monday, Dec. 9.

A community advisory committee, in conjunction with the A+ Coalition, a subsidiary of the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce, conducted a survey on various formats of Internet websites and social media to get community feedback on the characteristics and qualifications desired for a new superintendent. Dr. Kim McAlister, Dean of the Gallaspy Family College of Education and Human Development at NSU, spoke for the advisory committee at the meeting Thursday.

She said the survey generated 873 results, plus an additional 20 (+-) paper surveys that arrived in the mail, which had not been included in the data, presented at board meeting. Of the 873 results, 94 percent were from parish residents, 48 percent or 421 surveys were from stakeholders having students in the system, 22 were students and 20 percent or 171 surveys were from school employees.

The results showed an overwhelming 87 percent asked that the superintendent be paid comparable to same size districts in the state. The current salary is ranked eighth among 10 comparable districts while the number of students in the district puts the parish in the top three.

U’Donis Jones, in front, and his fellow Lakeview football teammates were congratulated at the board meeting Thursday. Photos by Juanice Gray

School board attorney Bob Hammonds expedited the process for placing an advertisement for Skinner’s successor and determining qualifications and salary. He began by recommending the board vote Thursday on the criteria. The first criteria were qualifications.

The options were qualifications stated by the BESE?board or BESE qualifications plus additional requirements such as a PhD. Hammonds said anything over the state requirements would limit the pool of applicants. The board decided to go with the state recommendations and in addition, the applicant must have all credentials in place upon submitting the application.

The next step was choosing locations to advertise. Hammonds suggested the five major markets in the state, Shreveport, Monroe, Lafayette, Baton?Rouge and New Orleans in addition to the parish legal journal, The Natchitoches Times. They will further advertise on the school board website and through networking with the School Board Association to place web based ads. A dedicated post office box will be procured to receive all applications.

A deadline of Friday, Feb. 7 was voted on and no less than two school board members will open the box Monday, Feb. 10 with additional checks later in the week. Only those applications postmarked by Feb. 7 will be accepted.

The hot topic at the Tuesday meeting was the salary range. Hammonds recommended a $25,000 range to attract more applicants. He suggested $120,000-$145,000, which included the two ranges the board agreed upon at the Tuesday meeting. Emile Metoyer proposed a range of $120,000-$135,000 Tuesday and Beverly Broadway proposed $130,000-$140,000 Tuesday. The only dissenting vote on the $120,000-$140,000 range was Metoyer.

Hammonds then briefed the board on procedures after the applications are received. He said the board would decided how many to interview, which ones to interview and the order of the interviews.