Gwinnett County school board members have received information on the 27 people who applied to be the district’s next superintendent, but it isn’t clear yet when they expect to begin interviewing candidates or get down to a finalist or group of finalists.
Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Board of Education met with Georgia School Boards Association officials in executive session to discuss the search after a training session on board norms Thursday. The board hired GSBA to do its superintendent search, and the deadline for candidates to submit their information for consideration was last month.
It is not yet clear how many of the 27 applicants will be brought in for interviews with the board, or approximately when interviews could take place.
“You can say they have 27 complete packets and they’re going to have to do their due diligence with their review to ensure which of those candidates they want to bring to the table for further discussion, aligned with their priorities that they pinpointed in the (job) announcement,” GSBA Director of Superintendent Search Services & Board Development Sam King said.
Gwinnett’s school board is racing against a self-imposed deadline of July 31 to hire a new superintendent. That is what they set as the final day for the employment of Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks’ — who the board opted to let go 11 months before his contract expired.
Before he went behind closed doors with the board to discuss the search Thursday, King said part of the reason for that meeting was to begin fleshing out a timeline for when the board hopes to begin whittling down the list of candidates and picking people to bring in for interviews.
“Once they do walk through their steps, then they’ll be able to have an announcement that would consist of up to three finalists, which means they could announce one, two or three,” King said.
King said that he expected the board to still have a new superintendent by the end of July, although that would be based in part on whatever the board decided behind closed doors Thursday night. The board was not expected to take any votes out of the executive session.
Whether the number of people who applied for the Gwinnett jobs is small depends on which metro Atlanta superintendent search it is compared against.
The pool of applicants that Gwinnett — which is Georgia’s largest school system — attracted is considerably smaller than the 92 people who applied for Buford City Schools’ superintendent position in 2018 or the 84 applications Atlanta City Schools reportedly received in 2020.
At the same time, it is not that far off from the 40 applications Fulton County Schools reportedly received when it was searching for a new superintendent in 2019.
There is not much information available at this point on what the pool of applicants looks like for Gwinnett.
King said he could not disclose how many candidates are internal GCPS candidates and how many are from elsewhere — or how many have previous experience as a superintendent — without potentially revealing information about who has applied for the job.
“That’s the reason the discussion is in executive session,” King said. “You’ve got 27 candidates. Some of them could be sitting superintendents. Some of them could be central office people. Some of them could be non-traditional. It could be any of those and the process is designed, deliberately, to maintain their confidentiality for obvious reason.”