Tuesday, November 22, 2016

TOP STORY >> Interviews start for district chief

Leader senior staff writer

The Jacksonville North Pulaski School Board will interview the two applicants with at least five years experience as superintendents to succeed Superintendent Tony Wood at a special meeting called for 5:30 p.m. Monday at the district office.

Wood announced Nov. 7 he was resigning and retiring effective June 30, the end of the current school year, and the board began its search the next morning.

Of the five applicants, only current JNPSD assistant superintendent Bryan Duffie and Robert Ross, who is Mansfield School District superintendent, met the superintendent experience criteria.

Ross will be interviewed at 5:30 p.m. Monday for an hour, Duffie at 7 p.m.

The board could emerge from executive session and offer the job to one of the two men at that time or take it up at the regular Dec. 5 board meeting.

Ross has been Mansfield superintendent since 2011. He has also been chief executive of two Texas districts—Sulphur Bluff Independent School District from 2008-2011 and before that the Olfen Independent School District in Rowena, Texas. He has worked as a principal and assistant principal in Texas schools dating back to 1989.

Ross has a bachelor’s of science from East Texas State University; a master’s of education from Tarleton State University; and superintendent certification from Texas A&M at Commerce, according to JNPSD Chief of Staff Phyllis Stewart.

Before coming to JNPSD for the current school year as assistant superintendent, Duffie was superintendent of Westside Consolidated School District at Jonesboro from 2010-2016.

Prior to that he was middle school and high school principal in the same district since 2005.

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 mentoring at Boys and Girls Clubs.

His Arkansas license certification include district administrator, building administrator, general science, math and applied math

Duffie received his Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy in 2010 from Vanderbilt University, his master’s degree in school leadership, management and administration from the University of Central Arkansas in 2004 and earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from the University of Central Arkansas in 1992.

In proposing search criteria to the board, Wood said his successor should have five years experience as a superintendent because of the many challenges a school district in only its second year.

The challenges include an ambitious building program where ground will be broken on both an elementary and high school.

The district is still bound by a desegregation agreement overseen by the U.S. District Court Judge D. Price Marshall and must become unitary in school facilities, discipline and other areas.

Stewart said Wood, and apparently the board, decided it would take a well-experienced hand to deal with all that.

School Board President Daniel Gray said he was pleased with the two finalists they will met with, but he didn’t expect the board would make its final decision Monday night. “Anything could happen,” he said.

“We got two qualified candidates, we’ll interview them and hopefully one will be our guy, or else we’ll repost the opening.”

“The board is respecting the process,” he said. “We went over all five, and scored them accordingly.”

Asked about Duffie, who has worked for the district for several months, Gray said he was well experienced and has done a fantastic job.

Other applicants included Dr. Michael Booker, principal of the Corrections Corporation of America at Whiteville, Tenn.; Timm MacDonald, former administrator West Adams Preparatory High School in Los Angeles, who moved to Arkansas in July; and Dr. Angela Olsen, a former assistant superintendent in the North Little Rock School District, currently office manager at Century 21 in Harrison.