Board opens superintendent search

FORTVILLE — The official search for Mt. Vernon’s next superintendent begins next week when the board narrows down its pool of 20 applicants.

“Innovative” is the word several school board members used to describe their ideal candidate, as the corporation with roughly 3,500 students continues to grow and increase technology-based learning.

“We’re definitely looking for someone who is very innovative, a forward-thinker,” board member Shannon Walls said. “Someone who can help take us to the next level. One-to-one (computing) technology is a huge initiative for us, and we want someone that can help see that through.”

The new superintendent will replace Bill Riggs, who has held the position 21 years and will retire June 30. The board hopes to have the new superintendent in place July 1.

The board will meet in executive session March 6 to go over the list of applicants that board members hope to narrow down to a reasonable number to offer face-to-face interviews. They hope to name the new superintendent in April.

Rebounding from financial struggles with a growing student population, the Mt. Vernon school district is poised for change, school board members said.

“We’re growing; and if we continue to grow, we’ll have to look at how to handle that growth,” Jason Shelton said.

Shelton wants a superintendent who is open-minded about change and new ideas.

Walls also wants someone who is invested in the community, which does so much to support the school district.

“We believe that the superintendent is kind of the face of our district, and we want someone … to be active in our community,” Walls said. “There’s a lot of outside clubs and organizations that support our school district. We’ve been blessed that way …. We’re a small community but growing, and we certainly wouldn’t be where we are in some of the trying financial times without the support of some of those groups.”

The board is looking for someone who already has a superintendent’s license, five years’ classroom teaching experience and experience in a central office.

Tony May, president of the board, said none of the 20 applicants currently is on the Mt. Vernon staff.

“For the most part, we’ve got a very young administrative staff, and I don’t know that they’re ready for that. I just don’t think they’re at that point in their career,” he said.

May echoed the goal of finding someone who is ready and willing to start a one-to-one computer initiative. Mt. Vernon would be the last school corporation in the county to launch such a program.

“(We need) someone who can engage the community, communicate and motivate,” May added. “We’ve gone through tough times. We need someone who can set the vision.”