Originally created 07/08/06

Superintendent search can wait, members say



Some Columbia County school officials are in no hurry to find a successor to Superintendent Tommy Price.

Mr. Price announced last month that he plans to retire at the end of the 2006-07 school year.

Although one board member thinks the search for his successor should begin right away, others want to wait until after the November election so that any new board members can be part of the process.

"We may decide in the next board meeting that we want to go and start our process," trustee Roxanne Whitaker said. "I think the fair thing would be to see what the election is going to bring."

Two school board seats are up for grabs in the Nov. 7 general election. Three candidates are vying for school board chairman, and two candidates have qualified to run in the District 2 race.

Two incumbents are running for seats, but Mrs. Whitaker said she believes that if newcomers join the board, they should have a say in who the next superintendent will be.

Mrs. Whitaker was on the board when Mr. Price was hired in 1998. At that time, the board created a task force of board members, educators and community leaders to help search.

She said she would like to conduct a similar search for Mr. Price's replacement.

Board member Mike Sleeper agrees with collecting community input on the decision but thinks the search should begin in the fall.

"We'll need agreement with all five, but by my way of thinking is we'll put together a committee, advertise it and see what kind of response we get, use the committee to narrow down the response a bit and the board will begin to interview candidates," he said.

Board Chairman Wayne Bridges said the search should begin soon.

"I'm not saying there's an urgency to name a superintendent, but I do feel there's an urgency to start the process of looking for a superintendent," he said.

Any qualified candidates the board might consider could have issues with moving or terminating a contract that would take time to resolve, Mr. Bridges said.

Waiting until new board members take office in January is too late, he said.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 113, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.

Columbia County Schools Superintendent Tommy Price will retire at the end of next school year. He will continue in a part-time advisory role through 2008 to ease the transition for the next leader.