By CARL SMITH
Starkville School District Assistant Superintendent Walter Gonsoulin emerged as the top candidate for the Fairfield, Ala. City Schools superintendent position and could officially receive a job offer today.
Gonsoulin met with the Fairfield school board and district constituents last night, and the board is scheduled to consider offering the job 10 a.m. today. The Starkville administrator said the Fairfield City Schools serves approximately 1,800 students with three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school. He said he applied for the job in February.
Gonsoulin is no stranger to superintendent searches. He was a finalist for similar positions at Bessemer, Ala., and Lafayette Parish, La. Gonsoulin also applied for SSD’s top administrative position but was not announced as one of the preferred candidates.
“In almost every (superintendent search) I’ve been in, I’ve either been No. 1 or 2,” Gonsoulin said Thursday in Alabama. “I’m ready to be a superintendent and lead a school district.”
Gonsoulin has served as an SSD assistant superintendent since 2007. While serving Starkville’s public school system, he said he received invaluable experience which has prepared him for a leadership role.
“This position has prepared me both in curriculum, operation and finances — a true opportunity to see all of the internal components of schools. From supervising personnel to sustaining budgets and dealing with legal cases, I feel like I’m prepared.”
Gonsoulin said the mark he’s made on SSD by helping lowering dropout rates is a point of pride.
“We’ve successfully reduced that rate from 29 percent to 16 percent; we’ve taken a district from academic watch to a successful one, and I think SSD will become a high-performing district sooner rather than later,” he said. “(The most important thing I learned at SSD) I would think is student achievement and how to maximize that. I’ve learned, too, how to address the diversity of students with curriculum and instruction.”
SSD Board of Trustees President Keith Coble said the district’s strength and service is represented when other school districts consider its employees for leadership positions. Coble said he wishes Gonsoulin the best if he is named Fairfield’s superintendent.
“There are a lot of people in our district that appreciate his smile and his cooperative manor. He has definitely been an administrative leader in our district,” Coble said. “You want people in your district that want to move up and have the ability to move up.”
If Gonsoulin leaves, Coble said the school board needs to figure out how an assistant superintendent search would function before incoming Superintendent Lewis Holloway takes over July 1. The board approved paying Holloway in a consulting capacity in March.