The search is on, finally.
Unified Schools board members finally took the first major step in selecting a search firm for the merged Memphis and Shelby County schools systems.
They recently hired the firm PROACT Search, which is based out of Illinois. PROACT will help the merged system find and screen a superintendent.
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School board member Chris Caldwell, who was part of the selection committee for the superintendent search firm, said PROACT is well qualified and offered the best price, at $23,000, not including travel expenses.
"The overriding concern of this, it's a historic opportunity for community, it's very important that we don't limit the field of candidates and the community is confident we did everything we could to find the right person," Caldwell said.
The firm dropped its price because they wanted to be part of this search, Caldwell added. PROACT has helped more than 50 other school systems across the country with superintendent searches, including Washington, D.C., Chicago and New Orleans.
The national search is expected to take five months, but the board hopes to speed up the process.
If the search firm doesn't find the right candidate, Caldwell says they'll redo the research.
"The two things we have advised from the beginning that should've been done is select a superintendent, and find attendance zones," said Shelby county Mayor Mark Luttrell. "We haven't done either one at this point so I'm disappointed that we haven't been able to do that."
Shelby County Schools Superintendent John Aitken is under contract with the board until February 2015, and has expressed interest in the position.