Tuesday, November 29, 2016

TOP STORY >> Candidates make pitch for top job in district

Leader senior staff writer

It’s possible that one of two well-qualified candidates interviewed by the school board Monday night will be offered the superintendent’s job Monday, when the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District meets in regular session, board president Daniel Gray said Tuesday.

Robert Ross, superintendent of the Mansfield School District near Fort Smith, and Bryan Duffie, current assistant JNPSD superintendent, interviewed at the JNPSD central office conference room in executive session—a meeting started at 5:30 p.m. and adjourned about 9:30 p.m., according to Superintendent Tony Wood.

It was Wood’s Nov. 7 announcement that he would resign effective June 30 that put the superintendent search in motion.

Ross and Duffie alone among five candidates met the district’s criteria of five years or more experience as a superintendent.

“Personnel will be on the agenda Monday,” Gray said, but that’s true regardless of the superintendent opening according to Wood, who said earlier that this meeting will have the fewest hirings, firings and resignations of any meeting this year.

In an introduction he made to the board, Ross said, “To make this vision become reality, it will take a strong instructional leader with years of experience to initiate the future growth of this district by looking at the social and industry trends, the economic factors and much more to determine the uncertainties of your situation.”

“The cliché statement that it takes a village to raise a child is better said in this situation that it will take the community to make the success of the district,” according to Ross’ statement.

Ross, who became Mansfield School District superintendent in 2011, said when he took over, the district faced financial problems and decreased enrollment. He said the board made adjustments, moved employees around without firing them, and the district now has a balanced budget and a surplus despite declining enrollment.

Before that, he was superintendent of the Independent School District in Sulphur Bluff, Texas, where he oversaw upgraded technology.


He has worked as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent. He holds a mid-management principal certification and superintendent certification. He has a mid-management administration degree and master of education from Tarleton State University at Stephenville, Texas.

He received his superintendent certification at Texas A&M-Commerce. He said he understands running a school or district, budgeting, bonds and building.


Hired here last spring, Duffie has been on the ground floor of getting the new district up and running. Before that, Duffie was superintendent of Westside Consolidated School District at Jonesboro from 2010-2015.

Before that, he was principal of the Westside Middle School, then the high school.

His Ph.D. is from Vanderbilt University.

He got his bachelor’s degree in mathematics education and his master’s degree in school leadership, management and administration from the University of Central Arkansas.

For a dozen years before that, he worked for North Little Rock High School–East Campus as a math teacher and trainer, student council adviser and Key Club adviser.

Duffie has a public service record dating back to 1993, including Kiwanis Club service projects like Boys’ and Girls’ Club mentoring.