Wednesday, November 09, 2016

TOP STORY >> Search on for new superintendent

Leader senior staff writer

Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District Superintendent Tony Wood resigned Monday night effective the end of this school year, and the job opening was posted online by Tuesday morning, Wood said.

The board could hire his successor as early as the Dec. 5 board meeting, according to the timeline Wood submitted and the board approved Monday.

Applicants with doctorates are preferred with a minimum of five years’ superintendent experience required. That excludes assistant superintendent Jeremy Owoh, who has a Ph.D., but has no experience as superintendent.

According to the job posting, “The job requires the ability to demonstrate administrative and technical expertise in multiple areas. It requires knowledge of the laws and regulations governing public schools in Arkansas. Requires sufficient language and human relations skills to prepare and deliver formal presentations to diverse audiences and to build productive and effective work teams. Requires sufficient math skills to read and interpret financial statements.”

The application period closes Nov. 17 at midnight.

At a special board meeting, 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, applications will be reviewed, finalists will be selected, interview questions will be reviewed and the board will set an interview schedule.

Interviews will be conducted Nov. 28 and as early as the Dec. 5 board meeting, the next superintendent could be selected.

Superintendent contract extensions occur in January, Wood said, so the board could choose to wait for the result of that.

The new superintendent will go to work July 1, 2017.


“I’m proud of what we have accomplished,” Wood wrote in his letter of resignation. “I’ve been surrounded by a talented, dedicated team. Together we’ve established a brand new school district—something that has never happened before in Arkansas. We have started the hard, earnest work that change requires.”

Wood expressed his respect for the board and board members, and said, “You saw the needs and went for a solution by passing one of the largest millage increases in any school district to fund school construction.”

He said the timing of his announcement will afford time to allow an effective process to select the next superintendent and to prepare for the transition.

Wood was hired after a professional nationwide search. It cost the district about $10,000 to find and hire Wood, from about 20 miles up the road in Searcy. His previous job was director of the state Education Department.


“We should start to get some names by the end of the week,” Wood said. “This is a wonderful community, if I was a young guy I’d stay on until they ran me off. I’m fixin’ to turn 66.”

He said Tuesday that the district is all staffed up and could now handle all the paperwork of logistics of a search on its own.

Pulaski County Special School District Superintendent Jerry Guess, familiar with the challenges unique to his district and the Jacksonville district that detached from it, including the desegregation orders and agreement they are subject to, said he is on a two-year contract and would not be an applicant.

Bobby Lester, JNPSD’s interim superintendent until Wood was hired said he’ll not apply either. “No, sir. I’ve got other things to do in this life. Tony’s done an excellent job.


Lester and Wood, between them, kept the process on time and district on an even keel through the first ever detachment of one school district from another.

“I’m thankful we got him,” said School Board President Daniel Gray. “He got us through the most important time, and I don’t think there was anyone else who could have laid as fair a foundation” given the large scope of work.

“His leadership was second to none, and I am thankful we have him through the end of the school year,” Gray said.

“He’s a man of integrity, honest and transparent,” he said. “Those will be hard shoes to fill.”


The school board also voted to give each qualifying full-time employee two $600 bonuses this year. The first will be for those working six hours or more a day, hired by Nov. 7 and still employed Dec. 9, the day of the first disbursement.

To qualify for the second bonus, the employee must have started by Jan. 9 and still be employed at the time of the May distribution. The cost to the district will be $735,840.

The district still can’t commit to raises, but wanted to recognize the teachers.

Wood has said all along that he wanted to help the new district to and through its first school year as a standalone district, which was geographically carved out of Pulaski County Special School District, and planned to retire after that.


New personnel hired Mon-day night will be the last eligible for the first bonus. They include Ashlie Ashmore, secondary English teacher; Tiffany Harper, family consumer science; Julie Coker, elementary art and Tracy Haley, secondary science.

The following classified employees were hired: paraprofessionals Holly Douglas, Dorchelle Lockhart, Jarriel Moore, Derrick Steel and Shalonda Thompson; custodians Anthony Brits, Carl Brown (part time), Lakeithia Phoenix and Cora Stovall.

Also hired were bus drivers Richard Haney, Katina Randle and Markiel White and cafeteria workers Jessica Oginski, Antwon Roy, Josephine Wheeler and Lakeshia Williams.

Hired as para-educators were Audreon Duncan, Wileta Ingram and Mary Ellen Shott; Cortez Bell, security officer, and attendance clerk Tina Smith.

Resignations: Reginald Nichols, Craig Watson, Anthony Alexander, Jacob Aloi and Shamika Boxley.

Other resignations include Treva Bradley, Craig Hartaway, Kristy Linkswiler, Georgia Williams and Kaylei Kennedy.