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Public Will Have Input on JPS Superintendent Search, Board Says

Jackson Public Schools Board Vice President Ed Sivak told the Better Together Commission that the district plans to hold community meetings for Jacksonians to give input on the superintendent search in April.

Jackson Public Schools Board Vice President Ed Sivak told the Better Together Commission that the district plans to hold community meetings for Jacksonians to give input on the superintendent search in April. Photo by Stephen Wilson.

— The Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees wants the community's input as they work to hire a new superintendent this spring. The board will begin advertising for the superintendent position this month and will host community meetings on April 16 and 17 for Jacksonians to express their ideas and qualities they want to see in a new district leader.

Board Vice President Ed Sivak told the Better Together Commission last week that the district wants the public to help shape the board's priorities for hiring a new leader.

"We will be having stakeholder group meetings to identify answers to following questions: What is good that's going on in community? What is good that's going on in our school or schools? What are the issues that someone coming into the district should be aware (of)? What are the skills and qualities a superintendent should have?" Sivak told the commission last week.

He said teachers, principals, JPS staff, parents, students and community members will be asked for their ideas. The board plans to close the application window by mid-May, Sivak said last week, and interviews will begin in June. Once the board identifies its top two or three candidates, it will make them public.

"I really appreciate—and I think the community will appreciate—that the last three finalists ... that they will have an opportunity to know who they are," commission Co-chairman Charles McClelland said last week.

The JPS Board selected McPherson & Jacobson, a search firm, to help conduct its superintendent search. Sivak said the board was excited about the firm's inclusive process—noting that the other search firm the board interviewed emphasized it could keep the candidates confidential until the very end.

"The firm we selected said we want an inclusive process, and that was one of the things that really steered us in this direction," Sivak said at the commission meeting last week.

In the meantime, JPS can begin work on its recently approved new corrective action plan. Interim Superintendent Freddrick Murray told the board last week about his aspirational organizational chart that would add two new positions in the district: a chief of academics and a chief of schools.

The four area superintendents, who currently report to Murray directly, would report to the chief of schools. The chief of academics would control curriculum, special education, professional development and student academic offices. Both new deputies would report to Murray, Sherwin Johnson, the executive director of media and public relations, said last week.

No plans to add these two new roles are on the agenda for the JPS Board meeting tonight, but the board has discussed possible changes to the organizational structure in light of the CAP as well as a review of the district by the Council for Great City Schools.

Murray also asked the board last week to consider hiring an outside group to assist the district in its weakest subject areas, namely math.

"Our challenge is that we don't have enough certified math teachers," Johnson said.

The board will vote this evening on whether or not to approve a contract with Greene Education Group to assist schools that need additional support.

The community meetings about the superintendent search will be at the following locations:

Monday, April 16, 2018
Cardozo Middle School
3180 McDowell Road Extension
6 - 7:30 p.m. 
Murrah High School
1400 Murrah Drive
6 - 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Provine High School
2400 Robinson Road
6 - 7:30 p.m. 
Callaway High School 
601 Beasley Road
6 - 7:30 p.m.

Email reporter Arielle Dreher at arielle@jacksonfreepress.com. Read more about the district's efforts to avoid a state takeover at jfp.ms/jpstakeover.

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