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SSD administrator search could last until Jan.

August 22, 2012


Starkville School District Superintendent Lewis Holloway says the district might not fill one of its top administrator’s spots until later in the semester.

Beth Sewell, the district’s former assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, left her post in July. Sewell’s departure came after she guided the district as its interim superintendent for almost a year before Holloway officially took over in July.

The school district has advertised the vacant position, formed a search committee and began preliminary interviews, Holloway said, but the search itself could last as late as January 2013.

The main factor influencing the search’s timetable is the start of another school year, Holloway said. School officials would be hard pressed to leave their districts during the beginning of a new academic year, he said, and would also have difficulty exiting any work contracts at this point.

“It’s just an untimely situation right now, one when most people can’t easily move. We’re not saying we don’t have qualified applicants now, but we still feel like we’re in the looking stage,” Holloway said. “It’s critical we get the right person who works well with our school district and is a good fit.”

Holloway did not reveal how many applicants the school district has at this point but did say it will extend its advertising to Education Weekly, a nationally distributed publication.

This administer search marks the second time this year the school district has looked for an assistant superintendent. In June, SSD hired Toriano Holloway to replace Walter Gonsoulin as superintendent for federal programs and operations after Gonsoulin left Starkville to become the Fairfield, Ala. City Schools’ new superintendent. Toriano Holloway was unanimously selected by a four-person committee out of five finalists and 15 applicants. Before applying for his current job, Toriano Holloway also applied for the district’s open superintendent position before Lewis Holloway was chosen. A 2010 Meridian Star column by Don Evans, Meridian Public School District Board of Trustees, listed Toriano Holloway as a preferred candidate in that district’s previous superintendent search.

“(School districts) don’t want to let their good administrators go right now,” Toriano Holloway said. “Getting that position filled is critical, but (Lewis Holloway) and I are managing right now and working to make this school year a success.”

SSD Board of Trustees President Keith Coble says he expects this current search process to compare closely to the searches which landed both Lewis and Toriano Holloway. He also said Sewell should be commended for guiding the district during accreditation processes and the uncertainty between primary leaders.

“Dr. Sewell spent last year in a position that was definitely challenging. We went about the search for a districtwide superintendent in a methodical process. We didn’t get in a big hurry because we wanted to do it right. She probably spent more time as an interim than we thought she would,” Coble said. “Right now, we don’t want to drag our feet, but we definitely don’t want to get in a hurry and make a mistake. It’s all about finding the right person for the job.”

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