When Memphis City Schools (MCS) superintendent Carol Johnson announced she'd be leaving for Boston in August, students asked her to stay and school officials quickly recognized that hiring both her successor and a qualified replacement to serve in the interim would be a challenge. Now, following the July 5th application deadline for an interim candidate and a July 9th search committee meeting, MCS must make an important decision. The Flyer recently spoke with Martavius Jones, MCS board commissioner and head of the search committee, about the interim search process and position.
— By Rachel Stinson
Flyer: How long do you think it will take to hire an interim superintendent?
Jones: When we had the original June 29th [application] deadline, I was hopeful that we could have the process done by the 16th. In light of the process being reopened until July 5th, I'm hoping we can make the decision by July 30th.
What qualities are you looking for?
The board feels that we're headed in the right direction with MCS. We're not looking for someone to come in and change the way things are. We want to continue in the same direction.
How will the interim's salary compare to Johnson's?
The interim's salary range will start at $150,000 with the upper end at $185,000. The upper end is about $20,000 less than Dr. Johnson's salary.
Do you think it would be beneficial to hire someone who is already familiar with MCS?
I think it would be a benefit. I also think it would be a benefit to hire someone with a management or business background. There are merits to both.
I'd like the board to select the top three traditional candidates and the top three [management or business] candidates.
How long will it take to hire a new superintendent?
We think that a comprehensive search will last six months to a year, but Boston's search for a superintendent lasted 18 months. Finding a qualified superintendent for a large urban school district is a challenge. We have our work cut out for us.
Do you believe this is a competitive position?
Finding someone qualified to do the job is difficult. It would be a lot easier if we had 25 qualified candidates for a large urban school district knocking on our door.
Why is this an important decision, even though interim superintendent is only a temporary position?
The loss of Dr. Johnson is a definite setback. The interim will decide if that setback is permanent or not.