District Four Escambia County School Board Member Patty Hightower spoke at Pensacola Young Professionals event on the process for appointing the next Escambia County Superintendent of Schools. While there have been no concrete steps taken yet, Hightower did express some opinions on what the selection process might look like.
Public input was definitely a priority to Hightower. She stated that she could envision a citizens board that would provide input and potentially vet some of the candidates. She also said that having town halls and allowing multiple ways for the public to engage was important.
One issue that will need to be considered is when would the appointment take place and would the new superintendent have an on-ramping period when that person would work with current Superintendent Malcolm Thomas for a period of time to get on-the-job training before officially taking over. Thomas' term ends in November of 2020. A possible scenario would have the new superintendent starting in the 2020 Summer and learning the area before officially starting.
Another topic that will need to be addressed in compensation for the new superintendent. The state provides some salary guidelines for an appointed superintendent, but the school board will either need to set or negotiate the salary of the new superintendent. Hightower shared salary data from similar sized counties to Escambia. You can find that data in the photo at the bottom of the page. Hightower stated that was pleasantly surprised that the salaries in these counties were not as high as she expected.
The school board will also need to decide issues such as whether it takes a simple majority or super-majority to fire the superintendent. There is currently no timetable for making these decisions.