In a split decision, the Pine Bluff School Board decided to delay a vote on options to use in the search for a new superintendent.
During a special called meeting Thursday night, the board chose to wait until Jan. 15 to decide which of several contract options would be used by executive search firm McPherson & Jacobson LLC.
Board vice president Ken Dickson, board secretary Leon Jones and board member Andrea Roaf-Little voted in favor of the measure; while board members Henry Dabner and Phyllis Wilkins voted in opposition.
Board member Harold Jackson abstained.
“With respect I humbly request that we wait until the regular monthly meeting on Jan. 15 to decide on what we should do,” Jones said.
Jackson asked M & J consultant Kieth Williams if delaying a decision by two weeks would have any adverse impacts on the search process.
“We need to have time to research the background of candidates so a delay of two weeks would mean that we would have to wait until after spring break to make a final decision,” Williams said.
“I think we need time to make a good decision,” Jones said. “We don’t want to make a rash judgment.”
The board voted at its December meeting to begin the process of moving from an interim to a permanent superintendent by agreeing that M & J would be hired.
Williams explained Thursday that the firm’s 2011 superintendent search that culminated in the hiring of Jerry O. Payne allowed it to offer the district the cost-saving option of eliminating several components of the new search process due to the fact that information amassed from the 2011 search could again be utilized.
Williams noted that these components included creating a list of the most important selection criteria for a new superintendent; developing a brochure to announce the vacancy; and conducting focus group meetings.
Roaf-Little expressed her belief that fresh input from new focus groups may be beneficial in the selection of a permanent superintendent.
“We can offer this option for $7,750 plus expenses of between $1,200 and $1,500,” Williams said. “We offer an optional phase V for $1,500 that establishes a set of performance objectives for the new superintendent to be evaluated at the six month and one year marks.”
Williams said that for $11,500 M & J will start fresh and conduct all components of the search process up to and including the optional phase V.