School Board Considers New Merger Superintendent

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(Memphis) A federal judge's decision to possibly appoint a special master to oversee the school merger is putting a spotlight on the fact that unified schools have no permanent leader.

With just months until the merged schools open, the judge is expressing concern over this lack of leadership that could throw a wrench in planning for the schools.

Shelby county superintendent John Aitken is planning to stick around through the opening of unified schools.

Some board members have expressed they would like him to be placed in that job permanently, but he`s not their only option.

Board member Betty Mallott says the board should have picked a superintendent a year ago to help create and carry out its plan.

She said people applying now won't be the highest caliber because the job isn’t very appealing at this point, “If we do a search now the quality of the search and the candidates I think is going to be questionable."

She wants to put off hiring a new superintendent for a year, and let Aitken oversee the first year.

Mallott says it would be a risk for someone to take a job now when they will be working with a completely different board once school starts in the fall.

That`s when the old MCS and Shelby board members leave and the group drops to seven.

Board Chairman Billy Orgel says the board isn't waiting around.

A search team from Chicago is expected to have a list of potential candidates by May with just two months until the merged schools open.

“You`re trying to do something that`s best for the whole community not just segments of the community so it`s a crawl,” said Orgel.

Orgel says if the federal judge appoints a Special Master to oversee schools it could speed the process up.

The judge has indicated he may do that since his orders are not being executed by the board to his satisfaction.

“I think that`s going to be an incentive for our board to either change the way we`re doing things or make decisions and even hurry up,” said Orgel.