The Smackover-Norphlet School Board selected three finalists in its superintendent search at Tuesday night’s meeting.
Representatives from McPherson & Jacobson LLC, the company leading the search, presented the board with their six finalists for review. During the public portion of the meeting, the board received the names of the six finalists and a resume for each before going into a closed session to review video submissions from each of the finalists.
The board voted to narrow the list down to Jason Black who is currently the special programs director at Hallsville Independent School District in Texas, Brett Bunch who is currently the superintendent with the Magazine School District and Dr. Marc Sherrell who is currently the student support services administrator and athletic director with the Lonoke School District.
Interviews with each of the finalists are scheduled for next week. Each finalist will come to the district, and be interviewed by three focus groups, as well as the board. According to the original timeline, the board is expected to make a hiring decision before the end of the month. However, the board could turn down all three finalists, or their choice could turn down the position, and the board would need to go through another round of applicants, which would prolong the process.
Black has worked as a director of special federal programs at the Hallsville Independent School District in Texas for two years. Hallsville Independent is outside of Longview, Texas, a little way past the border with Louisiana.
The district has seven schools, including a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program school. The district scored an A for the 2017-18 school year from the Texas Department of Education.
According to the McPherson & Jacobson LLC representatives, Black has worked as a junior high school principal at two other school districts in Texas, but grew up in Shreveport. He’s also served as an elementary school principal and a coach. They said that he is visible in the school and the community. They said Black turned around an elementary school in need of academic improvement. Black is also a former marine.
Bunch has been the superintendent with the Magazine School District for four years. He has also served as a principal, vice principal, coach and teacher. Magazine is the only school district in Arkansas that does year-round classes, a change that came under Bunch’s leadership.
In the “hybrid” school calendar that Magazine has implemented, classes start toward the end of July with the first nine weeks ending at the end of September. In the beginning of October students start the second nine weeks, which ends mid-December. The third nine weeks goes from mid-January to mid-March with the fourth going from the beginning of April to the beginning of June. Students have about a two-week break between each nine weeks and a seven-week summer break.
This is the first year that the “hybrid” system is in place, according to the Booneville Democrat. According to the Democrat, the move to this system was an effort to decrease the “summer slide,” the amount of information a student loses during the summer break.
The Magazine School District has an elementary and high school with a combined enrollment of 540 students. For the 2017-18 school year, both schools received a C grade from the state.
According to the McPherson & Jacobson LLC representatives, Bunch was described as an intelligent and motivated individual who brings real world business experience into the district. They said he maintains a sense of loyalty to those people he works with and that he has served on several educator’s boards, which has helped him create a relationship with other administrative leaders around the state. They said his goal is to find better ways to serve staff and students.
Dr. Marc Sherrell
Sherrell is currently the student support services administrator and athletic director with the Lonoke School District. He has also recently stepped in as the high school principal, a position he’s held before.
Sherrell has been with the Lonoke School District for six years in a variety of positions. Lonoke has four schools, three of which received a C grade from the state for the 2017-18 school year with the fourth receiving a D.
According to the McPherson & Jacobson LLC representatives, Sherrell has worked at both large and small schools, served in districts that are high minority and high poverty areas, taught special education and coached a variety of sports. They said he is described as easy going but has high expectations of his leadership. They said he has a ‘whatever it takes attitude’ for tasks assigned to him. He has participated in leadership workshops and wants his district to be the best around.
Michael Shine may be reached at 870-862-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter and like him on Facebook @MichaelAZShine for updates on Union County school news.
An earlier version of this article listed the incorrect location of the Hallsville Independent School District. It is located outside of Longview, Texas.