What’s next for Fayette schools?

No comments from school board members Lee Wright (L), Janet Smola and Chairman Terri Smith (R) about what happens next after retirement. of Supt. John DeCotis (below).

The June 30 retirement of Superintendent John DeCotis leaves financially struggling school system with questions

With Fayette County School Superintendent John DeCotis retiring by July 1, the Board of Education must find his replacement. So how will that decision be made?

The board will obviously have the final hiring decision, but there are several available options that could result in coming up with one or more viable candidates for the position.

Attempts were made to obtain input from all five board members since DeCotis made his announcement Feb. 10, but only Marion Key and Bob Todd returned phone calls. Board Chairman Terri Smith and members Janet Smola and Lee Wright are not responding to requests for comments. Wright’s post is up for reelection this year.

Todd and Key said there were four options for use by the board in conducting a search for a new superintendent. To search for and screen candidates, the board could use the services of the state school superintendent’s association, the Georgia School Board Association (GSBA), a private firm with experience in the area of candidate searches, or the school board could do it themselves. Key said the school board used GSBA during the last superintendent vacancy.

Key and Todd said the school board has a preliminary responsibility to decide on the standards for candidates to meet in order to be considered. Examples of those standards include prior classroom teaching experience along with experience as a principal and in a central office environment. The successful candidate should also have a doctorate and a proven track record in planning, budgeting, program development and good communication skills, they said.

Key said the board’s hire of a superintendent is very important and something that requires significant diligence and commitment to accomplish.

“This is the most important decision a board can make besides surviving financially,” Todd said. “The basic question, above everything else, is are we satisfied with the status quo or are we willing to step out and take the risk of finding a superintendent with the vision and courage to go from being a good school system to being a great school system?”