Expert: Time not on Montgomery's side in searching for new super - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Expert: Time not on Montgomery's side in searching for new superintendent

Former state superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson Former state superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson

With the resignation of Montgomery Public School Superintendent Barbara Thompson, there are now two school systems in Montgomery County searching for leaders. MPS has not indicated when it will open the search process. Pike Road City Schools, on the other hand, will open its official application period in the coming weeks.

As the systems search for leaders, experts warn that timing is not on their side.

Despite polarizing differences between Pike Road and the Montgomery school district, education consultant, and former state school superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson says this process will be an uphill climb for both.

"Not only is it difficult, it has been difficult for some time," Richardson says. The difficulty comes because school boards find themselves behind in searching for a new leader the moment a superintendent leaves.

"When you make a decision to release a superintendent, you have to understand that you're going to be in limbo for 3 to 5 years," Richardson says. There's a year-long interim period and it takes several years to get up to speed.     

As for candidates, Dr. Richardson says the number one question concerns the school board. It's a make or break for well-intended superintendents. "There's a very definite role to play for [the] board, very important role. But there's also a role for the superintendent, very important role," Richards adds, "and those two don't mix."

In MPS's case, Richardson suspects the state's grade changing investigation and a fractious board, typically seen in urban areas, could serve as a deterrent for strong candidates.

"Getting good people that have their careers ahead of them to apply is difficult, because if you've been fired, it's very difficult to recover," Richardson explains, adding that Alabama is experiencing a turnover in superintendents making it even more difficult to fill the position.

Richardson says in Alabama there are typically 30 to 40 changes per year, and this year the Montgomery County school districts are among the many searching for a new leader.

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