- Cullman, Alabama

May 5, 2013

Search underway for new city schools superintendent

By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — The search is ramping up to find the new superintendent of the Cullman City Schools system, and the board is seeking public input to define what characteristics matter most when selecting Dr. Jan Harris’ replacement.

Harris is set to retire on September 1 after more than eight years as superintendent to spend more time with her family, and the school board hopes to name her replacement by mid-July to make for a smooth transition.

An online survey is now live for locals to offer their thoughts on what skills and experience they want in the system’s next leader. Questions range from which challenges are largest in the coming years, to the overall direction of the system as a whole.

The results of that survey, and feedback from an all-day community engagement meeting on May 15 at the central office, will then be presented to the board as a guide for making the final selection.

“Those things are designed to get feedback, so as we begin screening applicants, that will guide that conversation,” school board president Suzanne Harbin said. “Folks should feel free to come and share their input, and we’ll be asking people what they are looking for and things like that, with a one-on-one dialog. All of that information will be compiled and presented to the board at our May 21 board meeting.”

If nothing else, Harbin encouraged every willing stakeholder in the city to at least complete the online survey.

“We want to know what the community believes are the most important issues,” she said. “That helps us, when the new person comes, to know what direction we need to move in.”

The board has contracted with the Alabama Association of School Boards to assist in the search, and the position should be listed within the organization’s network on May 7. To apply, applicants must be a graduate of an accredited four-year college, hold an Alabama certificate in administration and supervision, have three years of successful education experience and have no less than five years of experience in a public school setting.

The position will be listed with a starting annual salary of $135,000, though the final pay scale will depend on the level of experience.

Board members hope to have a list of at least five potential candidates by June 18, and conduct public interviews from June 25-28. Those interviews will also be recorded and posted online for any community members who are unable to attend.

If a suitable candidate is found during the process, the board plans to announced the new hire on July 16 with a tentative start date of September 1. The board would likely offer a 3-5 year contract.

Ideally, the board would like to avoid having an interim superintendent, though Harbin said all options would be on the table if the initial round of interviews fail to find a suitable candidate.

“I feel very comfortable with where we are now, and I feel like our system is in great shape and there is a lot of great community support for our system,” she said. “I think it’d be an attractive job on its own merits, not to mention the great parents and community members we have around us.”

Superintendent search timeline:

* May 7: Advertise position/post vacancy.

* May 15: Conduct community engagement meetings.

* June 7: Application deadline.

* June 18: List of finalists presented to board.

* June 25-28: Conduct interviews.

* July 16: Select candidate.

* Sept. 1: New superintendent start date.

* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.