FAYETTEVILLE -- The School Board narrowed its superintendent search to six candidates after a special meeting Saturday.
GR Recruiting, the firm leading the process, brought board members a list of 31 candidates to evaluate. The six selected advanced to the first round of interviews, scheduled for next week. A second round of interviews is set for the week of Feb. 13, with the new superintendent to be named after that, according to a news release from board President Nika Waitsman on Saturday.
John L Colbert, the School District's current superintendent, plans to retire this summer.
Here are the candidates scheduled to be interviewed, according to Waitsman's release:
• Marie Feagins, chief of leadership development and high schools, special assistant to the superintendent, Detroit Public Schools Community District, Detroit.
• Keith McGee, superintendent of schools, Helena-West Helena School District, Helena-West Helena.
• Jonathan Mulford, deputy superintendent -- operations, Springfield Public Schools, Springfield, Mo.
• Jeannine Porter, chief of marketing, communications and strategic initiatives, Irving Independent School District, Irving, Texas.
• Anthony Rossetti, superintendent of schools, Webb City R-7 School District, Webb City, Mo.
• Brad Swofford, superintendent, Branson R-IV School District, Branson, Mo.
"We have been very happy with the process so far," Waitsman said in a text message Sunday. "There was a great deal of community and faculty feedback collected through surveys and dialogue on the front end, which makes us feel well prepared. The recruiting effort and research assistance we have received from GR Recruiting has also helped us to hone in on some really top-notch candidates. We feel great about where we are."
Saturday's board meeting lasted about four hours. After opening with a search overview from GR Recruiting associate Brenda Dietrich, the board received instructions on the ranking procedures and went into executive session. Members deliberated, then consulted with GR Recruiting representatives before announcing the choices and informing those who had made the first round of interviews.
A 10-item position profile was used for evaluations, according to the release. Strong leadership/communication skills, a focus on providing equitable education opportunities and dedication to academic achievement and student success were among the priorities.
The search for the next superintendent started with a planning meeting in September. GR Recruiting met with area stakeholder groups for two days in October, and the deadline to apply was Jan. 10.
"We had quite a few applicants that met the criteria we set forth," Waitsman said. "Understanding the unique skill set and aptitude of each individual candidate is really important. We have utilized video submissions, character references and a thorough evaluation of career longevity and experience to help us narrow in on the best fit for Fayetteville. We still have significant work to do, but we are happy with the process and the access to candidate information we have had so far."
The base salary for the position was advertised as being "in the range of $275,000" plus a comprehensive benefits package, according to the job description posted by GR Recruiting.
"The final salary for the successful candidate will be negotiated and determined based on proven experience, qualifications, and meeting the Fayetteville Board of Education's criteria," the job posting states.
Colbert, 68, announced in January 2022 his plans to retire at the end of this school year. His career in education began as a special education teacher at Bates Elementary School in 1976. He served as principal and held two associate superintendent positions before becoming the district's first Black superintendent in 2018. He is earning $237,720 this school year, according to district documents.
The School District's enrollment as of this past fall was 10,426.