Richmond County school board members turned to the public for guidance and got very little.
At the first of four public forums seeking input into the county's next superintendent, one parent showed up.
The forum, held at Tubman Middle School at 5 p.m. Tuesday had more school board members, more staff members and more teachers than parents.
"I was disappointed in the number of people who showed up," board President Marion Barnes said, but he said he hopes more parents will attend the other forums scheduled.
The second, held later Tuesday night at Tutt Middle, was no better.
Greg Collier, president of Parents United, a group of 65 Richmond County parents, was at first the forum.
There are many intangibles he wants the board to consider when looking for a permanent replacement to Dr. Charles Larke.
Among those traits, Mr. Collier wants someone who embraces the public, someone with innovative ideas and someone who can bring accountability to the school system.
But above all, Mr. Collier said he "definitely" wants someone from outside the school system.
Mr. Barnes agrees.
"My idea is to get someone outside with fresh ideas," he said.
A Tubman Middle teacher also addressed the board.
Samantha Nobles, an academic coach, said teachers want a "change agent," someone who will support board employees. The next superintendent should also be more visible, visiting schools more often.
At the second forum, Joe Sills, whose children graduated from Richmond County schools, asked the board to consider someone with a management background and a background in education. He also had concerns about the salary, preferring the next superintendent not start with the same salary that Dr. Larke left with after 40 years of service in Richmond County.
The forums were held by the Georgia School Boards Association, the organization contracted to help Richmond County in its search for a superintendent.
Association consultant Bill Sampson conducted the forum and said the board will take the public's suggestions into consideration when formulating a final list of qualifications. After that is done, a brochure will be created and sent to prospective candidates.
It's still early in the process, but Mr. Sampson said his "best guess" is that the school board will begin interviewing candidates for superintendent by the end of March or early April.
Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Georgia School Boards Association will hold two more community forums to hear public comments on qualification for Richmond County's next school superintendent. The forums will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Hephzibah Middle School and 7 p.m. Tuesday at Glenn Hills Middle School.