Field is narrowed to three

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 12, 2011

A familiar name joins two newcomers as finalists to become the next superintendent of the Bogalusa City Schools.

Louise Smith, a support staff specialist for the Poplarville, Miss., School District and a finalist two years ago when former superintendent Ruth Horne was hired, Tangi pahoa Parish School District Assistant Super in tendent Lionel Jackson and Dr. Daniel J. Slack, currently the superintendent of the East Carter School Dis trict in El Dorado Springs, Mo. are the three finalists that board members will interview the week of June 20.

Representatives from the consulting firm of McPherson & Jacobson, L.L.C, which the board hired at a cost of $8,500, submitted those three names for the board to interview. A representative from the firm said the three finalists were gleaned from a pool of 15 applicants.

School Board President Paul Kates said he did not see the names of all of the applicants, only those who met the standards set by McPherson & Jacob son.

“They screened the candidates and just recommended the top three,” Kates said. “I think (the firm) gave us three highly qualified candidates. I really do believe that.”

Smith has spent her entire education career in the Poplarville (Miss.) district since graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1980. She also earned her master’s degree from USM.

She began in Poplar ville in 1982 as a teacher, and also served as principal from 1991 through 1995.

Smith has since served as a support staff specialist, and records indicate she has been instrumental in helping the district land several high-dollar grants.

“The board decided it was Miss Horne,” Kates said of the vote two years ago, adding that he did not vote for Smith because “I didn’t want to be (the only one) out there by myself. We try to do things (unanimously).”

Jackson, who earned his bachelor’s and Ph.D. from Southern Univer sity and his Master’s degree from Xavier Uni versity, was a teacher for the Orleans Parish School district and in Tangi pa hoa Parish before being chosen as an assistant principal in Tangi pahoa in 2005. In 2007 Jackson became director of child welfare for the district and then served one year as principal from 2008 to 2009, when he became Assistant Super in tendent for Pupil Ser vices. He is one of two assistant superintendents for the district.

Although Jackson is a new addition to the Bogalusa labor pool, he has been in the job market. In 2008, and again this past month, he was a finalist for the superintendent’s position for the St. Helena School Dis trict.  Several weeks ago St. Helena hired Kelli Joseph, who is an administrator in the St. John the Baptist School Dis trict, as its superintendent. Dr. Gerald Keller, one of the two consultants with McPherson & Jacob son who assisted in the Bogalusa Schools search, is a former superintendent in St. John the Baptist district.

Jackson was also a finalist in 2010 for the superintendent’s position with the Monroe City Schools. McPherson & Jacobson also spearheaded that search.

Slack, who earned his bachelor’s degree at Cen tral Michigan Univer sity, his master’s at Missouri State and his Doctorate at NOVA South eastern Uni versity, is well traveled, serving in districts in Missouri and South Dak ota.

Earlier this year he was unsuccessful in his at tempt for the superintendent’s position in Mans field, Ark., although he was selected as a finalist.

“We’re just trying to win the community back and get their trust back,” Kates said.

“We are doing the right thing to get discipline back into our schools. I believe we will hire someone that will move this district forward.”

Kates said a salary range has not been established but it is expected that with incentives it will reach six figures. Initially, the board had established a salary of about $80,000 year with another $20,000 in incentives and other areas, but consultants urged members to increase the base to attract a higher quality candidate.

“You pay for what you get,” Kates said.

Each candidate will visit for one day and interview with principals, parents, students, the public and board members. The Daily News will publish each candidate’s agenda once established.