MSCS hosts first public input meeting in search for superintendent

Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 10:18 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Honest, trustworthy, and someone who’s not looking to pad their resume and move on after a few years.

That was just some of the feedback Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS) received Thursday night during the first community input meeting at Snowden School as the search for a new superintendent got underway.

The previous MSCS superintendent, Dr. Joris Ray, resigned in August amid an investigation into improprieties with his employees.

When the search committee asked participants to give two words to describe the qualities the next superintendent should have, a definite trend appeared.

“As a parent, what I’m looking for... I need a greater sense of trust,” said Ashley Baker, the PTO president at Snowden. “In order for me to have a greater sense of trust, I need a lot more transparency.”

When asked to name specific qualities they’d like to see in the district’s new leader, the top replies were: integrity, transparency, trustworthiness, character, and honesty.

Overton High Principal Reginald Williams said he wants his next boss to be in the Bluff City for the long haul.

”You think of names like Gerry House, Kriner Cash and Carol Johnson,” said Williams. “Let’s make sure people aren’t using us as a resume builder. That’s important. As a lifelong Memphian myself, let’s make sure people are not just using this job as a resume builder. "

“Let’s also make sure the candidate isn’t using the job to pad their bank account,” said search committee member and former school board member Reverend Kenneth Whalum Jr.

”When you are making the kind of money that the superintendent makes, you better be very, very sure about what it is you want to do, because money tends to reveal who you really are,” Whalum said.

Back in 2000, when Superintendent Dr. Gerry House resigned after eight years at the helm, she was making $170,000 a year.

Superintendent Ray was being paid $310,000 a year when he exited the top job in August.

The nine-member school board will ultimately be tasked with making the final selection for the man or woman who will be in charge of educating 110,500 students and 13,900 employees.

”I really want someone who’s seen success academically and knows how to move the needle,” said District 1 Board Member Michelle Robinson McKissack, “because I think we’ve been a little stagnant for a while now. We’ve seen incremental growth, but we need significant growth.”

”It’s important we hear from everybody,” District 9 Board Member Joyce Dorse Coleman said, “because this is not somebody that’s just going to represent the nine of us. This individual will represent our entire district, and we have to get this right for our children. We have to.”

The next MSCS Super Search Community Meeting will be on Thursday, Dec. 15, at Southwind High School from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

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