Liz Marino/Sentinel File Photo

Board of Education Chair Tracy Rookard said the school board is making progress on replacing Gordon Pritz, who is retiring as Douglas County Schools Superintendent at the end of May.

The Douglas County Board of Education is a step closer to a hiring a new superintendent.

The BOE will hold a special called board meeting on Monday where they are expected to vote on a pilot program with a software vendor that will help the school system maximize FTE funding in an open meeting before going into executive session to review applications for a new school superintendent for the Douglas County School System.

The meeting will be held at the Board of Education central office, 9030 Hwy. 5 in Douglasville.

The school board has been tasked with hiring a new school superintendent for the Douglas County School System upon the retirement of current Superintendent Gordon Pritz.

Pritz announced that he would retire on May 31, after being hired by the BOE in 2010. Prior to accepting the position in Douglas County, the Cobb County resident had been an associate superintendent with the Cobb County School System since 2006.

“The Douglas County Board of Education continues to make progress in naming a new superintendent,” said BOE Chair Tracy Rookard. “The board adopted qualifications for the position and approved an announcement of the position that was advertised nationally.”

She said 44 applications were received from a broad range of applicants, including candidates from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, Washington D.C. and Wisconsin.

Rookard said that on April 8, the board received a report from the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) search leaders Trudy Sowar and Sam King.

She said the board was given access to all applications and a review of their responsibility in ensuring confidentiality throughout the process.

“We will be reviewing all applications over the next two to three weeks to identify those candidates we wish to select for interview,” said Rookard. “The board will then begin interviewing candidates who appear to have closely met the qualifications noted in their announcement.”

The school system has maintained that the BOE is obligated to notify the media and public of up to three finalists at least 14 days before taking final action on the position. The Sentinel filed a formal Open Records Request in January for a list of the three finalists and related documents on the advice of attorney David Hudson, general counsel for the Georgia Press Association.

The board will make available documents to the public for inspection and/or copying concerning as many as three persons under consideration whom the board has determined to be best qualified for the position, Rookard said.

The Douglas County Board of Education voted January 9 to approve hiring the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) to conduct a search for a new school superintendent. The cost given at the time was expected to be from $7,000 to $8,500 plus expenses.

During a called meeting Jan. 9 at 5 p.m., Trudy Sowar from the GSBA presented an overview of how a school superintendent search is conducted. She told the board members that the process takes about three months to complete and is based on a leadership competency framework — skills that are required for today’s superintendent.

Sowar said that the GSBA would train the board in the interview process, as “there are a lot of legal issues in interviewing” and will assist the board in establishing “operational norms with an induction plan” once the final candidate is selected.

“Within the first 30 days, we will facilitate operational norms with the board and superintendent for a smooth entry and to ensure success,” Sowar said. “We will hold your hand during the entire process.”

The GSBA most recently completed superintendent searches for the cities of Rome and Marietta school districts.

 

Regarding the software vendor, the school board originally received information on the proposal in a special called meeting on March 20. It went before the school board for a vote on April 10, with two school board members, Michelle Simmons and Devetrion Caldwell, requesting additional time to further review the proposal.

FTE or Full Time Equivalency count is conducted three times each year. Students are classified as a regular or general education student or a special education student. School funding increases are based on the number of services a child receives and the computer software could help identify gaps in eligible funding, Douglas County School System Chief Academic Officer Pam Nail told the board.

If approved by the board, the Douglas County School System would be first system in the state to pilot the program, she said.

“The software will identify students missed based on scheduling,” she said. “Each classification on FTE day earns a certain amount. It could be that we are missing oversights this software could identify.”

According to Nail, the computer software could formulate the school system’s data and potentially raise an additional $8 million in funding.

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