Education

Four firms short-listed for Wake school superintendent search

Posted May 25, 2010 9:49 p.m. EDT
Updated May 25, 2010 10:53 p.m. EDT

Wake County Public School System

— Wake County school board members will interview four firms before choosing one to run their search for a new superintendent for the 140,000-student system.

Tuesday night, the board's search committee pared a list of eight candidate firms, dropping the two most expensive and the lowest-priced one. Consultants that have worked for similarly sized districts before got the most support.

The committee will set up face-to-face meetings with representatives from Hazard Young Attea Associates, Ray Consulting Group, DHR Consulting Group and the N.C. School Boards Association.

The committee will go to the full board next week to ask for a $125,000 set-aside for the search process, though members all said they expect to need much less.

The board is under some pressure to allocate money, select a firm and sign a contract before the fiscal year ends June 30.

The school board put Superintendent Del Burns on administrative leave after he said he would resign effective July 1and criticized a board decision to drop socioeconomic diversity in schools as a goal in deciding what schools students attend.

Donna Hargens, who was the chief academic officer under Burns, was named interim superintendent. The board decided earlier this month that it would conduct a nationwide search for someone to replace Burns and to hire a search firm to manage the process.

The cost of the search will depend on whether the system finds an internal candidate or looks farther afield. Several of the companies that sent proposals separated those costs.

The committee dropped Educational CEO Search Inc., Boyden Global Executive Search, Organizational Capability Services LLC, and Heidrick & Struggles. OCS has a Raleigh office and offered to do the search at cost as a community service, but had little experience with school superintendents, committee members said.

Boyden, at $85,000 plus expenses, and Heidrick & Struggles at $110,000 were the most expensive proposals.

The committee also began compiling questions that members will pose to the four candidate firms at interviews Chairwoman Debra Goldman hopes to schedule during the first week in June.