Before deciding who will succeed Hinojosa, the board first has to decide whether to allow him to step down on May 31 as he has req-uested rather than serve out the rest of his contract, which expires Dec. 31.
The board met Saturday behind closed doors to discuss whether to accept the resignation and what its options were. It will meet behind closed doors again on Feb. 19 at its regular work session to continue the discussion, board Chairwoman Kathleen Angelucci said.
Angelucci said the previous superintendent, Fred Sanderson, announced his retirement a year in advance.
Angelucci came on the board in January 2011, six months after that announcement. The previous board had already voted to pay the Georgia School Boards Association $5,000 to conduct a national search for Sanderson’s replacement. Sanderson stepped down in June 2011 and Hinojosa took over in July 2011.
“You look at what is presented to you, we discussed those candidates as a board and just like any job hire there are lots of applicants. You go through them and discuss the differences. It’s seven people debating and discussing what the strong points are,” Angelucci said, describing how they went about hiring Hinojosa.
When seven elected officials are involved, each giving their own opinions, the hiring process is much different than a human resources director of a private company making a unilateral decision, Angelucci said.
“This is a big deal with lots to consider. You consider their experience, what your district needs,” she said. “We’re a very large system with a very big budget, and it’s very difficult to find someone out there who has that experience and is willing and ready to throw their name in the hat. That’s a very small list when considering a good match. And for me, personally, it’s about finding someone who has the experience to run a district this large and to manage a budget this large.”
A national search or hiring from within?
Veteran educator Carole Kell of east Cobb, a grandmother of three who retired in 1999 as principal of Hightower Trail Middle School, believes the board should hire from within the system rather than conduct a national search.
“I think we’re at a serious crossroads with our school system, and having been one of those people who really believes that I was a part of building this school system into a premier school system for the state and the nation I believe we need to look maybe this time at home,” said Kell, whose late husband, Corky Kell, was the school district’s athletic director and namesake of Kell High School.
Kell said she would be happy to advise any board members who wanted to call her for advice.
“We have people employed by our school system now whom I think have the ability and the know-how, the wherewithal to operate the way I think a superintendent needs to operate, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little home cooking,” she said.
State Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb), chairman of the Senate Education and Youth Committee, said he participated in the hiring of three superintendents and two interims while serving on the school board.
“If they feel like they’ve got the quality of talent they’re looking for certainly I’d always talk in house before I’d launch a national search because on a national search you get a lot of coverage, but that doesn’t always mean you get the whole story on everyone who comes. You’ve got to do extensive research,” Tippins said. “Anytime you’re in house you know more about the individuals you’re looking at. You’ve got to start with the premise whether you do or do not have the type of talent that you’re looking for.”
No tax increase by Angelucci A Saturday article by April Hunt published in the AJC reported that the district plans to close its funding gap in part with a tax hike.
Asked about this on Monday, Angelucci said she’s not sure where that came from, but she does not support a tax increase.
“I don’t know where they would have gotten that information,” Angelucci said. “I personally do not think the answer to our issues right now is raising taxes.”
Hinojosa was predicting an $80 million shortfall last fall. Yet, Angelucci believes revenues will not turn out to be that bleak.
“I just don’t think that a tax increase is how you fix the bad economy,” Angelucci said.
The chairwoman said she looks forward to delving into the budget, even if that means going “line by line.”
“This board does not want any more increases (of students) in our classrooms, we don’t want to let one more teacher go, and we want 180 days, meaning no furlough days, and we’re committed,” she said.