Local News

Wake School Board To Seek Internal, External Candidates For Superintendent

Posted December 21, 2005 12:57 p.m. EST

— Wake County school board members met for the first time Tuesday to talk about Wake County Public Schools System Schools Superintendent Bill McNeal's replacement.

In the Board of Education's closed session, members decided to follow system policy, which encourages an initial internal applicant pool for the superintendent position.

With input from the community, the school board and the school system will put together a job candidate profile and allow prospective internal candidates to apply before looking to external candidates.

McNeal, who began his educational career as a social studies teacher within the Wake County Public School System in 1974, served in a number of various roles within the school system before becoming superintendent in 2000. In November, he announced that he will retire in June to take a position with the North Carolina Association of School Administrators.

For McNeal's replacement, some Board of Education members have indicated that they would like to look inside and outside the school system. In November, one board member, Carol Parker, suggested looking beyond educational leaders into the business community.

But the North Carolina School Boards Association, which will give the board advice about setting up timelines and gathering community input, suggested that the board continue to look for an education leader, not a candidate in the business community.

The School Boards Association also advised the board to take public comment without letting the public drive the decision.

"Bill McNeal was a great communicator," said Dave Duncan, the vice-president of the parent group Assignment by Choice.

Duncan hopes for someone like McNeal and he also hopes the board will take public feedback seriously.

"If you've listened to anything our organization has had to say recently, we want long-term planning and short-term planning," Duncan said. "That's what the community is looking for."

The school system has its challenges with about 120,000 students currently enrolled and an estimated 72,000 more within the next 10 years. The school system and board has to decide who is qualified to handle the challenge -- which could coast the school system as much as $80,000 more than it is paying McNeal.

Compared to other school systems the size of Wake County's, McNeal earns only about $212,000; superintendents in other comparable districts earn about $250,000 to $300,000.

If the search begins in January, the school board could begin interviewing candidates by April, which could mean a new superintendent before McNeal's last day -- June 30.