Wilson steps down as superintendent

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By Bryan Marshall

Williamstown Independent Schools soon will be looking for a new superintendent.

Charles Ed Wilson, who is in his sixth year with the district, has decided to retire two years before his contract was scheduled to end.

In a letter dated Nov. 10 to Williamstown School Board members, Wilson gave his written notice that he will be resigning from his position effective July 1, 2009, giving the board eight months to recruit and select a replacement.

Wilson’s wife, Rose, also will be retiring as a teacher at Dry Ridge Elementary.

“My decision to retire is a personal choice as I leave the district hopefully a little better than when you employed me July 1, 2003,” Wilson wrote in his retirement letter. “The Williamstown School has employed many very competent superintendents over the past 100 years and I have been blessed and honored to have been able to work and live in Williamstown.”

A longtime educator, Wilson previously was superintendent for Todd County Schools from 1996 to 2003 and Letcher County Schools from 1995 to 1996.

He said he was pleased with the progress the district has made during the past six years.

“We have concentrated on many facility and technology improvements since my employment,” Wilson wrote in his letter. “The building from Preschool-12th grade is designed for 21st century learning. The district is in sound financial condition with a reserve emergency fund of more than 5-percent cash. The Williamstown School state test scores for the 2007-08 school year ranked 12th in Kentucky this due to great teaching, administrative and support staff.”

The 61-year-old said he plans to continue living in Williamstown and take an active role in the community.

The Williamstown School Board began discussions about a search plan for a replacement during a work session Monday, Dec. 1.

A tentative timeline was agreed upon that included advertisements for the position to begin Jan. 2.

“I would rather go ahead and attack it,” said board member Donna Cheesman. “You want to get the best that’s available. You don’t want to get what’s left over.”

A screening committee also will be organized during the next two months.

The committee will consist of one school board member appointed by the board chair, a principal elected by the principals, two teachers elected by the teachers, one classified staff member elected by classified employees, one parent elected by the PTO president and one minority parent elected by all parents if a minority is not already selected,

The committee’s role will include receiving applications, reference checks and developing a list of candidates to recommend to the board.

“The board only has to consider the screening committee recommendations,” Mike Oder, a superintendent search consultant for the Kentucky School Boards Association, said to the board. “They don’t have to take those recommendations.”

Applications for the position will close Feb. 23 with the screening committee to meet for the first time the following day.

After meeting three times, the committee will finalize recommendations for candidates to the board March 6 and all applicant files and notes will be handed over to the board.

The screening committee will meet with the board March 10 to formally give their recommendations.

The board will interview candidates between March 15 and April 1 with the goal of naming a new superintendent by April 10.

“Those dates mean nothing,” Oder said to the board. “We put dates in there that are very arbitrary. I don’t want you to think you’re backed into a corner and you have to interview between March 15 and April 1. You may interview March 11 and March 12 and be done. You also may go to the middle of May.”

When discussing candidate criteria, the board members said they wanted someone who is community minded, experienced in finances and budgeting, possesses good oral and communication skills and has administrative experience.

“I also think we need someone with fiscal experience since we’re embarked on building projects,” said board member Chris Lawrence.

Oder said he would help the board through the search process in order to find the best possible replacement.

“I’m sorry that you all have to do this,” Oder said. “I’ve known Charles Ed for a long time. We go back to his days in western Kentucky when I was a superintendent. I look forward to working you through this. We’re going to get you another good superintendent.”