Hunts for superintendents progress

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Aubrey names sole finalist; Pilot Point ISD delays search

The Aubrey and Little Elm school districts have made progress with searches for their next superintendents, but Pilot Point hit a speed bump this week.

On Monday, the Pilot Point school board decided to delay its search after finding no suitable candidates, board President Pat Burns said in an email. The board has named Assistant Superintendent Dan Gist to serve as interim superintendent, according to Burns.

“Despite all our efforts, the board just did not find the right fit for the district during our search,” Burns wrote in the email. “We’ll take another look at what is out there around the first of the year. That is the best time of the year to conduct a search, and yields the biggest field of candidates.”

The district hired Arrow Educational Services Inc., a Henderson-based firm, to oversee its search. In June, Superintendent Byron Terrier agreed to a voluntary resignation agreement with the board. Terrier stepped down as superintendent June 30.

The Aubrey school board named interim Superintendent Debby Sanders as its lone finalist for the district’s top job during a board meeting last week. The district posted the vacancy for internal candidates and Sanders was the only person to apply, according to board President Ron Bullock.

In more than 30 years, Sanders has worked her way up from serving as an Aubrey teacher and coach to becoming a central-office administrator.

“I’m excited that the board has confidence in me — that they feel that I can run the district possibly,” Sanders said. “I am looking forward to negotiating the contract with them. ... And if we can reach an agreement, then I’m looking forward to being the superintendent at Aubrey ISD.”

State law requires the board to wait at least 21 days before it considers officially hiring Sanders.

During that period, Bullock said, the board will conduct final interviews with Sanders, negotiate a contract and share its expectations for the district’s next superintendent.

In the last several months, the board has conducted an extensive evaluation of Sanders, Bullock said.

He said the board has identified characteristics, qualities and expectations for the next superintendent that it has no plans of “bending on.”

He said that while the board wants to select a superintendent as soon as possible, when that’s done is not as important as “getting that decision right.” After 21 days, if the board determines the fit is not mutually right, the superintendent search will continue.

“There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge before she is actually hired as superintendent, and that’s what that 21-day period is for,” Bullock said. “We’ve seen her performance as an assistant superintendent and many, many roles in our district ... and obviously we felt comfortable with trying to fine-tune this.”

Sanders was appointed to a one-year term as interim superintendent last summer after the resignation of James Monaco, who now serves as the district’s chief financial officer.

The Little Elm school board is slated to review proposals from prospective search firms Monday, according to Julie Zwahr, the district’s communications coordinator.

On Aug. 18, the school board plans to interview prospective firms and consider hiring one to oversee its superintendent search, Zwahr said. The firm will be involved with organizing the selection process, community feedback, community forums and candidate interviews.

Little Elm Superintendent Lynne Leuthard agreed to a voluntary separation agreement and release with the school board in June. She resigned June 30.

Matthew Gutierrez, the district’s human resources chief, is serving as acting superintendent. He’s previously said he has no interest in pursuing the job full time.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.


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