Board whittles down candidates

ALBANY -- Dougherty County Board of Education members were able to narrow the field of applicants for the school system's next superintendent in an executive session held at the Administration Building Thursday morning.

The meeting was held in a closed-door, executive session because it involved personnel.

School Board Chairman David Maschke said all seven board members met from 8:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. to analyze the 39 applicants that applied to become Dougherty County's 14th superintendent since 1885. Eight-year Superintendent Sally Whatley announced her retirement in late August. Whatley will remain on the job until the school board replaces her.

Applicants reside in 12 states -- included 22 from Georgia -- and one lives in the United Kingdom. Citing a state law that prohibits providing specific information prior to releasing a list of finalists for a position, Maschke wouldn't reveal how many of the applicants hail from Dougherty County or reside in Southwest Georgia.

"We went through the applicants and we trimmed it down to a pool of qualified applicants," said Maschke, who declined to tell how many people or the percentage of applicants were eliminated. "We instructed the GSBA contact (Bill Sampson) for initial interviews, which will mean there will probably be more than one round. (Sampson) will contact the applicants and let us know which dates will work."

Fellow board member Michael Windom called the meeting "very productive."

"I was very impressed with the quality of the pool of applicants," said Windom, who has served on the board since 1995. "We're looking forward to getting the interview process going."

Maschke said the board is hoping to finish its initial round of interviews this month.

"We're trying to have an aggressive schedule, but not be hasty," he said. "If things go well, we're hoping to make a selection and bring someone on in (as the new superintendent) February or March. The goal is to have the new person on board, so they can be involved in the budget process."

Besides Georgia and the United Kingdom, three applicants live in South Carolina and two hail from Virginia, New Jersey and Alabama. Kansas, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Arkansas, Oklahoma and California were the other states where applicants reside.

At 8:30 a.m. Monday, the school board will meet with Albany-area state legislators at the Administration Building. In the evening, the board will have its regularly scheduled meeting. The meeting will have an early 5:30 p.m. start to accommodate board member Emily Jean McAfee's request to attend the Lights of Love tree-lighting ceremony at 7 p.m. at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.