D29 to hold public forum, conduct online survey to assist in superintendent search

Williston District 29 is seeking the public's input as they search for a new superintendent.
During the Oct. 21 school board meeting, Judy LeGrand with the S.C. School Boards Association, who the board hired last month to search for its next superintendent, gave an update on the search timeline. The SCSBA is in charge of putting out the vacancy notice nationwide so anyone interested in the job can apply.
One thing she asked the board was whether they wanted to schedule a public forum and conduct an online survey. While they did not do this three years ago before they hired Dr. Tom Siler, who recently left for a job in Lexington County, the board agreed this would be a good way to learn what parents, students, district employees and the public are looking for in the next superintendent.
Following meetings with principals, district office staff and teachers, a public forum is scheduled for Nov. 18, though a time has not been set. During this time, SCSBA officials will meet with community members to gain their input on the professional qualifications, experiences and characteristics the board should consider as they search for a new superintendent. An online survey is also available until Nov. 20 at www.surveymonkey.com/s/GLZVVJG.
LeGrand said the SCSBA will compile a report of the findings from the survey and public forum. The report will be presented to the board by Dec. 16 when the SCSBA gives them a pool of candidates. The board will use the findings to narrow down the field and select semi-finalists.
According to the search timeline approved by the board, the board will interview the semi-finalists Jan. 12-14. From there they will select the final three candidates for the job. Their names will be released around Jan. 16 and the SCSBA will conduct full background checks on them, said LeGrand.
The schedule puts the board hiring a new superintendent by March 1, though they wouldn't start until the summer.
In other news:
-The board accepted the resignations of two employees. Kelly Edwards Elementary School nurse Linda Starnes is retiring in December after 21 years. Eric McCreary, a paraprofessional at Williston-Elko High School, resigned to go into full-time ministry.
-The board unanimously approved to enter into negotiations with M.B. Kahn Construction Company to conduct a study of the district's facility needs not to exceed $15,000. The firm was one of three the board heard proposals from in September during closed session.
-Following the success two of their schools have had with social media, the district started a Facebook page to inform the community.
"We know it's been very successful for the elementary and middle schools," said Lenderman.
-Don Wical, the district's director of technology, said they reformed a technology committee of teachers to update the five-year plan the approved last year. The update is needed because the state is now only requiring a three-year plan instead of five. They also need to reflect upgrades the district made recently, including new Mac laptops for middle school teachers.
While Wical said they are able to upgrade some old computers to make them usable, they are losing an average of one computer a week they can't fix. He plans to present the plan in November to the board.
-Jeriah Owens, the director of special services, said their department is actively working with 131 students with disabilities - 57 at the elementary school, 36 at the middle school, 33 at the high school, and five Headstart students - but have nine more who have been referred.
"We're up a little bit from last year," she said, though enrollment at the alternative school is currently down to two students, both of whom are high school students.
-The board approved two field trips requests, including one for the eighth graders to visit Washington, D.C. May 26-29, 2015. The other request was from high school Spanish teacher Christina del Hoyo, who took a group of students to Costa Rica this summer, to take students to Spain and France in the summer of 2016.