Turner one of three candidates to be interviewed for superintendent

Friday, March 16, 2012

EUREKA SPRINGS -- The Eureka Springs School Board has narrowed its superintendent search to three candidates from a list of five suggested by search firm McPherson & Jacobson.

At its regular meeting Thursday, the board heard consultants Dr. Diana Julian and Ronnie Greer recap the search process.

Out of 26 applicants, four did not complete the application, two withdrew, leaving 20 they examined, Julian said.

The five recommendations were current Eureka Springs interim superintendent Curtis Turner; James (Jay) T. Chalk, a high school principal from Omaha, Ark.; Delena D. Gammill, a Capacity Building Leader with the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE); Jerry Premer, a superintendent with Richards R-V in Missouri; and Lewis Villines, a principal from Flippin, Ark.

Julian and Greer gave summaries of why these five candidates rose to the top of their list, based on high marks in five areas of qualifications the school board and focus groups had identified.

The board retired to executive session and returned to narrow the list to three candidates to be interviewed: Turner, Gammill and Villines.

"The five you gave us looked very good, but for certain reasons, these three stood out," board member Robert McCormick told the McPherson team.

Turner has worked as a superintendent since 1986, serving a total of five years in Delight, Ark., one year in Glenwood, six years in Clinton and four years in Murfreesboro. He has worked with the ADE on schools that are in fiscal distress and has a strong background in finance and Arkansas law.

Gammill, besides working for the ADE for the past two years, served four years as superintendent in Ozark Mountain, Ark., one year as superintendent in Scotland, Ark., and two years as assistant superintendent in Clinton. She was also a public school advisor with ADE two years and is a certified curriculum specialist.

Villines has been principal at Flippin for four years and was an agriculture teacher for 14 years. He attended the Arkansas Leadership Academy at Harding University, implemented a comprehensive literacy program and a career academy. He was named Administrator of the Year at the local, state and national level.

Interviews with the three candidates will be conducted at the end of the month, and the board is expected to make its decision the first week in April.

Julian praised the Eureka Springs community, especially the retirees and students.

"Everyone seems to have the best interest of the Eureka Springs school community at heart," she said. "As you collaborate and communicate, you find out people have a lot more in common than you'd think."

In other business, the board:

* Approved three working committees: Technology/Curriculum, Facilities and Policy Review. Board members, staff and the superintendent will serve on the committees, and other members, such as teachers or community members, may be added.

* Approved a student transferring from Huntsville into the district.

* Approved personnel matters: accepted the resignations of paraprofessionals Susan Septer and Jackie Bonds, effective this month; custodian David Sisco and treasurer Wanda Stanford, effective end of school year. Approved the hiring of all three principals for the next school year and Nolan Helder as a bus driver for the remainder of this year; and approved the following substitute teachers: Mariah Todd, John Covington and Denise Gibson.

* Approved payments and heard an update on the new high school

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