Education

Who will temporarily lead Wake County schools? We should find out next week.

Jim Merrill, who will retire Feb. 1 from his job as superintendent of Wake County schools, speaks with reporters Aug. 1, 2013.
Jim Merrill, who will retire Feb. 1 from his job as superintendent of Wake County schools, speaks with reporters Aug. 1, 2013. tlong@newsobserver.com

An interim superintendent for Wake County schools could be named on Tuesday.

The Wake school board is expected to make the announcement during its meeting, board chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler said. She would not say whether the temporary leader will be an existing school system employee.

The interim superintendent will fill the expected five-month gap between the end of Jim Merrill’s tenure and a new leader’s start date. Merrill, 67, will retire Feb. 1 after four years as superintendent, leading the nation’s 15th largest school district. His annual salary is about $303,000.

Applications for the permanent job are due Jan. 30, and the school board will likely interview seven to 10 candidates in March before narrowing the list to three finalists. A new superintendent could be named in early April and start by July 1, said Allison Schafer, director of policy and legal counsel for the N.C. School Boards Association. The group is helping Wake in the search.

Wake last hired an interim superintendent in 2012, when the board fired superintendent Tony Tata. Stephen Gainey was the original interim, but he left to become superintendent of Randolph County Schools. Cathy Moore, who is now Wake’s deputy superintendent for academic advancement, then became interim superintendent.

Wake will pay the N.C. School Boards Association $18,500 to conduct the search, with a $15,000 maximum budget for expenses such as advertising the position and candidate lodging and meal costs.

The community can tell the school board what they value in a superintendent through a survey. You can see the survey by clicking here. Responses are due Wednesday, Jan. 17.

Pressley Baird: 919-829-8935, @pressleybaird

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