CONYERS -- The Rockdale County Board of Education could pay up to $10,000 to find a replacement for its superintendent of Rockdale County Public Schools, and it could take up to five months to get a new person in the position.
The school board met with Jim Puckett, board development specialist for the Georgia School Boards Association in a special called meeting Wednesday to discuss steps to find a replacement superintendent.
Current Rockdale County Public Schools Superintendent Samuel King informed the board earlier this month that he accepted a position as superintendent of Norfolk Public Schools in Virginia to begin July 2.
Puckett told the school board Wednesday that GSBA charges an $8,000 fee to conduct a superintendent search for school systems. Additional charges to the board would include travel costs of a GSBA consultant and advertising in national education publications, which can cost between $300 and $600.
School board attorney Jack Lance also advised the board that it would have to pay for potential candidates' travel if they invited them to a special community meeting, but they wouldn't have to pay for travel to interview candidates.
Lance told them to expect to pay up to $10,000 overall for the search. He added that an outside search firms could cost between $7,500 and up to $20,000 or more, plus those added expenses.
Puckett told the board members that once they developed a list of qualifications or criteria, as well as a timeline for the process, GSBA will send out a brochure to potential candidates all over the United States.
GSBA will place applicants in four different tiers, from not meeting specific qualifications to meeting most qualifications outlined by the board. The board will get weekly reports of the number of applicants and demographics; Puckett said superintendent searches usually bring in between 30 and 55 applications.
"All you need is one, if it's the right one," he said.
GSBA will conduct reference checks on the top group of candidates, and the organization also could conduct criminal and financial background checks for $50 each, Puckett said.
Through the search program, GSBA will provide the board with training on the interview process and provide a list of sample questions to ask candidates.
Then the board can set up private interviews and announce as many as three finalists, whose names will be released to the public.
GSBA is not involved when the board enters into negotiations with a candidate, but the organization does provide sample contracts and recent superintendent salaries to the board.
Puckett provided the school board with a proposed timeline, which could have the board with a final candidate by Nov. 1.
However, "there are ways that the board can shorten the time for us," Puckett added.
The Rockdale County BOE has used GSBA for a superintendent search at least twice, in 1992 and in 2005, when it secured King.
"(GSBA) certainly got us a great candidate last time," said school board Vice Chair Jean Yontz.
After an executive session to discuss personnel, the school board unanimously approved a motion to retain GSBA to conduct its superintendent search, subject to general counsel's approval of a contract. Board member Darlene Hotchkiss was absent from the meeting.
Also after executive session, the board "unfortunately" accepted King's letter of resignation, effective June 30.
"It makes me want to cry," said school board Chair Wales Barksdale. "The more you know him, the more you love him."
Barksdale said he knows King will do "a great job" in Norfolk, but he foresees King returning to Georgia in the future.
"We've had great success under his leadership," Yontz added. "It was certainly worthwhile to have this man lead us. It's been an honor and pleasure."
The school board also voted to accept King's maximum performance incentive compensation as allowed under his contract with the board. Yontz said he has met all of his performance goals; the board unanimously approved the motion.
In his current contract, King is allowed up to a maximum of 5 percent of his base salary, which is $200,000, for performance compensation each year.
RCPS has yet to release the calculation of the bonus. Last June, the board approved the same compensation for King, which resulted in a nearly $9,000 bonus after taxes.
The board based his performance increase on board priorities and goals:
-- Increase student academic achievement
-- Continue to improve fiscal management and procedures to maintain a strong financial base
-- Foster collaboration and effective communication
-- Implement adopted strategic plan
-- Foster a safe and orderly learning environment
King's current employment contract was entered into on July 22, 2009, and was scheduled to be terminated, unless renewed, on June 30, 2012.The school board has scheduled a special called meeting for personnel at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday in Room 44 of the RCPS Central Office Complex, which is located at 954 North Main St. in Conyers. Barksdale said Wednesday that the board could name an interim superintendent as early as that meeting.