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SOCSD hires Illinois firm for superintendent search


STARKVILLE —Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District has hired a firm to assist its search for a new superintendent.

The board of trustees voted in a special-call meeting Friday to contract with Illinois-based Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates to oversee the hiring process. The board chose the firm from among proposals from several others, board president Sumner Davis said. SOCSD will pay the firm a $21,500 consulting fee, plus some additional fees for other services such as a $3,920 advertising package.

Superintendent Eddie Peasant in January announced his retirement, which will be effective June 30. He accepted an administrative position at William Carey University, after spending five years leading SOCSD.

HYA Associates provides support for executive searches related to K-12 education, serving several types of school districts across the nation. It led superintendent searches for Petal and Columbia school districts in Mississippi. Associate David Lee, who is based in Mississippi, is one of four members of the HYA team who is assisting SOCSD trustees with the search.

Davis said the board plans to create several stakeholder groups composed of parents, teachers, business partners and elected officials to give input on potential candidates. HYA Associates will meet with the board and the stakeholder groups over the next few months to ensure the district hires the best-fit candidate.

“We’ve already had conversations with Dr. Peasant about the characteristics the person who is going to come on board needs to have from his perspective,” Davis said. “We, as a board, have recognized that this is probably one of the biggest decisions that our community is going to have, just in general for a long time.”

While Peasant will not be involved in the selection process, he will help transition the next superintendent into the position, SOCSD Public Information Officer Nicole Thomas said.

HYA Associates will first conduct individual interviews with each board member then will meet with and gather survey data from the stakeholders to develop the leadership profile and desired characteristics of the superintendent. HYA Associates will use this information to create a formal posting of the position. The survey will be shared with the stakeholder groups within the next two weeks.

Meeting with HYA Associates, candidates and community groups, the board will narrow the candidate pool and hopefully make a job offer by July 1, Davis said. He said he wants the district to have a successful and inclusive hiring process, taking opinions from different voices throughout the community and not just going back to the “well of the same ole, same ole folks.”    

“We’re trying to put together a process that engages all aspects of the community in this because in reality, the school superintendent for our district is so much more than dealing with K-12 education everyday,” Davis said.

Davis said the board has not received any formal interest regarding potential candidates wanting to apply. He said he encourages anyone interested, whether than be internal or external, to apply for the position.

“I think our board is going to take the position and put together a process and we welcome anybody to apply through that process to apply,” Davis said. “… We are going to let each candidate go through the process and pick the best qualified person for our district.”

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