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Clayton school board to choose search firm

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The Clayton County Board of Education will hear pitches tonight from six firms offering their services in the search for Clayton County's next school superintendent.

The search firm selected will be responsible for helping the governing body fulfill one of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' mandates for regaining school system accreditation. The accrediting agency will send a review team to the school district April 13-15, to monitor progress on meeting eight mandates.

The board's meeting tonight will begin at 6 p.m., in the district's central administration complex, 1058 Fifth Ave., Jonesboro.

"They [SACS] have said they would like to see us progressing, and we'll be taking a huge step forward at the meeting ... when we choose a search firm," said Board Member Pamela Adamson, the board's liaison with SACS.

The board decided in January to search for a new schools chief. The contract of current Superintendent John Thompson expires in June. Thompson is allowed to submit his name for the position, and he has shown interest in remaining the superintendent.

"We want to have this job filled by June 30, because that's when Dr. Thompson's contract expires," Adamson said. "We'd either have to extend his contract, or have someone on the way."

The board also voted, in late January, not retain the services of the Illinois-based executive search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, which had started a permanent superintendent search last year. That search was put on hold in March 2008 when the school board decided to hire Thompson as a "corrective action superintendent" instead.

The board originally planned to hear proposals from search firms Feb. 24, and vote Monday on hiring a firm, but board members changed their minds a day before the proposals were to be heard because of the low number of firms showing interest in the job. The board moved a review, and vote, to tonight to avoid having officials from the firms spend money to come to Jonesboro twice.

The board has set a $25,000 limit for how much it will pay for a superintendent search.