Search starts for new superintendent

Catawba County Schools Board of Education will release Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley 30 days earlier than his ending contract date.

Markley requested Monday the board release him from his position Sept. 30 in order to move and settle in Wilmington for his new job as superintendent of New Hanover County Schools.

"We respect that," said CCS Board Chairwoman Joyce Spencer. "It's the beginning of the school year, and we very much accept the fact that there are goals and direction that need to be set in New Hanover. It's not unusual at all for a superintendent to ask for a 60-day release."
Markley's contract originally stated his last day was to be Oct. 30, following a 90-day notice.

Also, the board is considering giving Markley a $5,000 bonus if he met the board's goals for the previous school year.

"The goals are tied directly to our school system's strategic plan," Spencer said.

The goals include creating a positive relationship between schools, staff and students; incorporating technology into the classrooms; creating a safe environment for students, faculty and parents; recognize diversity within the school system; prepare students for post-secondary success; and create partnerships with businesses and the community.
"Under his leadership, we've had positive improvement," said Charlie Wyant, CCS board vice chairman. "It's handed down and each teacher is responsible for seeing their part is taken care of. He's greatly improved the communications from the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top under his leadership."

Spencer said Markley received a merit bonus the past two years as superintendent because he did not receive a salary increase. The board of education will announce its decision on whether to give Markley a bonus at an upcoming board meeting.

Also during Monday's board meeting, CCS unanimously approved to allow the North Carolina School Board Association assist in the search for a new superintendent for the school district.

In addition, Spencer said the NCSBA will provide the board with names of potential interim superintendents to serve between Markley's end date to the new superintendent's start date, which is expected in March.
"When Dr. Markley announced he would be leaving, I made contact with the association who is searching for someone who would be interested in assuming that role on a temporary basis," Spencer said, adding she hopes a person will be named interim superintendent by Oct. 1, but who can shadow Markley starting in mid-September. "There will be some transition if our time frame does continue to work, but (the interim superintendent) will not assume any paid position until Oct. 1."

Wyant said the board of education will meet with the NCSBA to discuss possible interim superintendents as early as this week.

Superintendent Search
NCSBA Director of Policy Allison Schafer presented board members with a timeline, an application, advertising costs and survey forms during the Monday meeting that will be used during the superintendent search. For one year, the board will be charged $9,500 for the assistance of the NCSBA, along with additional travel costs for candidates and advertising costs. Schafer said the total amount should not exceed $15,000.

Currently, NCSBA places 10 superintendents a year and conducts about 75 percent of its searches in state. The CCS superintendent position will not only be posted within North Carolina, but across the nation, as well.
In fact, the board of education hired the association's services twice in the past — one time included Markley's hire. In addition, the service was also used by New Hanover County Schools, where Markley accepted the superintendent position.

"There will be a large interest in this position because (the school board) is very successful and well respected, and Markley has had the support of the board," Schafer said. "Also this is a desirable community and a good school system."

The board chose a timeline to start advertising the position Sept. 7 and have an application deadline of Nov. 22. Because this is an election year, the current board chose to wait until after new board members are elected to start screening and interviewing candidates.

A survey will be given to CCS employees and parents and should be available online. The survey results will be reviewed by the board members to create a firm understanding of what the community hopes for in a new superintendent. Survey results will be reviewed before the end of the year.

The board will start reviewing applications Jan. 4 and will have closed-session meeting Jan. 24 through Feb. 4 to interview candidates. After reference and background checks and contract discussions, the board plans to have a new superintendent hired by March 7.

"I hope to make this process as smooth as possible," Schafer said. "I will work to find someone who will do a fine job."