Wednesday, May 09, 2007

TOP STORY >>22 applicants for Cabot school job

Leader staff writer

Five of Cabot’s own have applied for superintendent of Cabot Schools, a position the Cabot School Board has been trying to fill since Dr. Frank Holman, the current chief, announced his resignation back in March.

Dr. Tony Thurman, principal at Cabot High School; Teresa Chance, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment; June Elliott, director of federal programs; Charlie Donham, director of transportation; and Robert Martin, director of career and technical education, were among 22 applicants who submitted resumes to the school board showing their interest in the position.

Although it has been rumored that the school board had chosen a replacement, board president David Hipp said that rumor was false.

“Nothing has been decided yet,” Hipp said Tuesday. “We haven’t sat down and discussed who our top choices are to narrow it down.”

The last interviews will take place this evening, and then the board will discuss the person each member has in mind to fill the position, or continue with a second round of interviews. The board hopes to have the new superintendent selected in time to announce at Tuesday’s school board meeting, but it might take longer.

“If we don’t have someone clear in our mind by the 15th, we will do second interviews and call a special meeting of the school board to make the announcement,” Hipp said.

He added that board members have been keeping their thoughts to themselves during the interview process, so he doesn’t know which way the other members are leaning.

“I can’t feel what the others are thinking. I wish we knew who the top candidates were at this point. It’s gone longer than I would have liked to see it go,” Hipp said.

The five in-district applicants all want to help Cabot schools continue its legacy as an excellent school system. Dr. Thurman said he sees applying for the superintendent’s position as a great opportunity to stay in a district he loves. “I see this as a position to work with all the students in the district. My family enjoys being part of the Cabot community and we would like to be here for a very long time,” said Thurman, who has also been a Cabot middle school principal.
Chance wants to see Cabot continue to grow and remain at the top in education.

“I want us to provide a quality education for all students and prepare them for the future we don’t see right now,” Chance said. Martin, who spent seven years as the Cabot High School principal, seeks a genuine commitment between the school and the community.

“It’s a great district and the opportunities the past administrations have created have been good ones. I want us to continue to grow and continue the level of education we provide,” Martin said. Donham, who has spent 26 years in Cabot as a teacher, coach and administrator, envisions improving an already great school system.

“I applied for this position because I want to make the district even better. I am dedicated to the Cabot community. Anything I can do to make Cabot a better place is my goal,” Donham said. Elliott was out of town for a conference and unable to provide a response.

Cabot advertised the superintendent’s position with the Arkansas School Boards Association and the National School Board Association and posted it on the district’s Web site.

Those postings paid off, bringing in 11 resumes from within Arkansas and six from out of state. In-state applicants include: Wayne Fawcett of Bald Knob, Bruce Evans of Piggott, Randy Byrd of Brinkley, Joseph Cornelison of Horatio, James Simmons of Conway, Michey Billingsley of Bauxite, Larry Bennett of Green Forest, Rhonda Bradford of Mayflower, Richard Wilde of Castle Rock, Jim Loyd of Paris, and Gary Masters of Marked Tree.

From out of state, applicants include: Pat Travis from Detroit, Texas; Jake Honea from West Columbia, Texas; Bob Biggs from Pleasant Hope, Mo.; James Dubus from Pittsburg, Texas; Michael Mitchell from Corsicana, Texas, and Chris Carem from Gastonia, N.C.

Whomever the board chooses as the next chief of the almost 9,000-strong district will make between $135,000 to $175,000, depending on prior experience, education level and the size of the district the successful candidate comes from. The new superintendent, who would receive a three-year contract and start work July 1, will also receive $5,000 for moving expenses if necessary.

Holman’s last day is June 30, when he leaves to take the superintendent position with the Lincoln Consolidated School District near Fayetteville, where he previously worked for 16 years.