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FARMINGTON -- In a special meeting Monday, Farmington School Board decided to bring in five top candidates to interview for the superintendent's position, according to Superintendent Bryan Law.

Law submitted his resignation, effective June 30, to become director of Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative.

The board met in executive session for about 45 minutes. Law said each board member had a list of candidates they liked from the applications submitted for the job. The lists were "fairly consistent," Law said. "They have a strong field of five to pick from."

The following applicants (listed in alphabetical order) will be contacted for interviews to take place Feb. 24:

Andrew Ashley, superintendent of Cedar Ridge Public Schools.

Jon Laffoon, superintendent of Star City School District.

Stephanie Pinkerton, assistant superintendent with Farmington School District.

Jon Purifoy, principal, Farmington Career Academies.

Benny Weston, superintendent of Mena School District.

The school received applications from 25 people by the Jan. 24 deadline, including Pinkerton and Purifoy from Farmington, five from other districts and the University of Arkansas in Northwest Arkansas, seven from out of state and the rest from other schools in Arkansas. The out of state applications came from Tennessee, Missouri, Oklahoma and Virginia.

School Board members discussed the search process during a work session Feb. 4.

The candidates will meet with a committee made up of school and community representatives and interview separately with the School Board.

Farmington school representatives on the committee are junior high Principal Joe McClung, Williams Elementary principal Kara Gardenhire, district treasurer Mandy Uher and classroom teachers: Teighlor Williams, Kellie Allen and Belyn Rodgers. Lori Blew, Tonya McCuistion, Randy Lynch and Jay Moore are representing the community on the committee.

The committee will meet with each candidate for about an hour and then will be asked to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate and provide that information to the board.

Law said the committee's input is important to the process but noted the School Board is the one responsible for making the decision and hiring a new superintendent.

Law said interviews would start at 8:30 a.m., Feb. 24 and go through 4 p.m. Each candidate will first talk to the committee and then meet with the board.

Law said he would put together questions for the School Board interviews and asked board members to email him any questions they would like to ask.

"There needs to be some script to it but also freedom to go off script," Law said at last week's work session.

Law also recommended assigning questions to specific board members for each interview.

The board's goal is to vote on a new superintendent at its February meeting. The regular meeting date would be Feb. 24 but the board has moved the meeting to Feb. 26 because of the interviews.

During the work session, board members discussed qualities they are looking for in their next superintendent. These included someone who is a good communicator with the staff, public and board and has a clear vision on where to lead the district.

Other qualities mentioned include someone with a financial or business background, someone who understands the school construction process and school curriculum. Also listed as qualities are someone with integrity, a strong ethical background, and someone who is adaptable.

Board member Jeff Oxford said he was impressed with the resumes, adding he considered five applicants as very strong candidates.

Oxford said the board needs to find someone who will let the principals do their job and steer the district.

"That's my opinion. There's a reason people want to come to our district," Oxford said.

Board President Travis Warren also said he believes Farmington received applications from "strong" candidates.

"I'm a bit prejudiced but I think we have the best job open," Warren said.

Law said he believes Farmington needs to move forward in making a decision. January is usually the typical month when superintendents are hired by school boards so Farmington is already somewhat behind in the search process, Law said.

He also noted that other school districts have superintendent openings for the 2020-21 school year.

Law told board members that he and Assistant Superintendent Terri Strope would vet the top five candidates and provide that information to board members before their interviews.

He said Feb. 25 or Feb. 26 would be available if the board needs more time in making a decision or wants to call any of the candidates in for second interviews.

General News on 02/12/2020

Print Headline: School Board Selects Top Candidates For Superintendent Position

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