Forrest City Board reviewing superintendent's performance

FORREST CITY (Times-Herald) - The Forrest City School Board is in the process of evaluating interim superintendent Joye Hughes, and the results of that evaluation will determine if Hughes will continue as an interim, be named superintendent or if the search for a superintendent is reopened, according to board president Joey Astin.

The process of finding a new superintendent began nearly a year ago when former superintendent Dr. Jerry Woods announced in March he was leaving the district at the end of the 2011-12 school year. Woods had been superintendent since the 2008-09 school year.

Woods' announcement prompted the board to begin a search for a replacement. The board met several times concerning the search, outlining how they would go about advertising the position and the qualities they were looking for in candidates. That search resulted in 16 people applying for the job, with one from as far away as Alaska.

Hughes, who was the deputy superintendent at the time, did not submit an application for the position.

During a called school board meeting in May, the board narrowed the applicants down to five before Astin announced that the group had decided not to interview any of the five remaining candidates.

At that time, Astin suggested that Hughes be appointed the interim immediately, which was unanimously approved. It was also unanimously approved to provide Hughes a $10,000 stipend to her contract for as long as she served as interim.

Regarding the applicants, Astin said that while they were all qualified, they did not "fit our needs at this time." Astin cited Hughes' familiarity with the district among the reasons for choosing her.

"We're fortunate that we do have Joye," Astin said at the time. "She's familiar with the district, she's familiar with the staff and our financial situation. In concert with the board, I think moving forward right now, it appears to be the best fit for us."

During the discussions at that time, board member Larry Jayroe asked if the superintendent selection process would be reopened. Astin said then that he felt it might be reopened in "December or January."

Contacted this week for an update on the superintendent search, Astin said there had been no problems with Hughes' performance since she took over, but said it had been discussed by the board to reevaluate the superintendent search either in late 2012 or early 2013.

"We were going to review evaluations done by each board member this week during the called meeting we had set for (today), but we have moved that meeting to Monday, Feb. 4," said Astin, who stated that the reviews would be discussed in executive session since the issue concerns personnel. "By this week, we should have all of the evaluations done.

"My desire is for the board to complete its evaluation process and then discuss where we would like to go from there," Astin said.

Any vote held regarding the superintendent matter will have to be held in open session per the Arkansas Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.