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For next superintendent, Guilford County Schools to use search firm

guilford county schools

The Guilford County School board has voted to seek out a search firm to help recruit its next leader.

Superintendent Sharon Contreras announced in January that she would be leaving next school year to take a job as the CEO of The Innovation Project, an education nonprofit. Contreras has served as Guilford County Schools' superintendent since 2016.

At a board retreat Saturday, Contreras indicated the district could be in stiff competition with other school districts around the country seeking candidates. The education research firm EAB recently released a survey of 141 superintendents in which fewer than half responded that they plan to stay in their role for several years.

“There's a lot of information and statistics about the superintendents leaving, and I think 40% of all the nation's large district superintendents have left during the pandemic or will leave by the end of this year,” Contreras said.

She added that many school districts have opted to fill recent vacancies with men, despite the fact that the majority of educators are women.

The board voted 5-3 Saturday to seek out search firms to help recruit candidates.

“I feel strongly from my experience in small and large districts that you need a professional search firm,” advised the board’s attorney Jill Wilson.

Wilson said a firm can help to keep the search confidential, which can be crucial for recruiting superintendents currently serving in other schools.

Board members said the cost of hiring a firm could range from $30,000 to $80,000, and Contreras cautioned that expense could be higher in a competitive market.

According to the district’s website, Guilford County Schools is the third largest school district in North Carolina and the 50th largest in the United States.

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Reporter, covering preschool through higher education. Email:
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