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No LISD staff applies for chief despite 22 district employees having superintendent qualifications

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Posted: Sunday, January 12, 2014 4:00 am | Updated: 7:51 am, Mon Jun 23, 2014.

Despite having 22 employees with active superintendent certifications, Longview ISD has not received any internal applicants to serve as the district’s chief.

The lack of applications comes at a time the district previously said it would be scheduling interviews for someone to fill the post occupied by James Wilcox.

Wilcox was originally hired in 2007 to serve the district and rehired in 2012 as a part-time superintendent. He announced in November that he plans to leave Longview ISD by the end of 2014.

“The district’s board of trustees is expected to begin scheduling interviews with internal candidates — should they express interest in the job — in January 2014. Additional interviews would follow, if necessary, with a new superintendent hopefully named by mid-year,” Wilcox said in a statement in November announcing his departure.

District spokesman Adam Holland said the plan was to open the position for external candidates after discussing it with those who already call the district home.

School board Vice President Chris Mack said trustees’ plan was always to consider internal and external candidates at once and that the application window is still open.

“We are not going to do internal first and then external,” Mack said. “It is open for anyone. I don’t know who has applied.”

Assistant Superintendent Jody Clements, who was hired by Longview ISD in August 2012 from his position as Kilgore ISD superintendent, said he initially expressed an interest in the position, but rethought it over the holiday season.

“When I came over from Kilgore, I did have the interest in it,” Clements said. “I am still going to school, trying to finish up my doctorate, and my dad has been real sick. ... I just think right now the timing is not right for me.”

Still, Clements said he does not plan to leave Longview ISD any time soon.

“I will be here. I don’t plan on going anywhere. It’s a good district,” Clements said. “I like my job here. Whoever they hire, I will support.”

Longview ISD employees with the certification to make them eligible for the position include assistant and deputy superintendents as well as several principals, the district’s transportation manager, a few directors and a teacher.

Mack said Wilcox will go over candidates and bring the top contenders before the board.

“My understanding is (Wilcox) is going to collect all of the applications, and then he is going to bring us ‘X’ number,” Mack said. “That is exactly how the search firms work, too. They narrow it down to the top candidates. We are doing it the same way we always do it, but we are sure happy we have him there.”

He added that part of the reason Wilcox was rehired in 2012 was to facilitate the search.

“He is so well connected throughout the state. He knows so many people,” Mack said. “Plus, we had a relationship with him and he knows how the board works.”

Under the Teacher Retirement System, retirees can return to work after a minimum 12-month break in employment. Employees who retired after Jan. 1, 2011, also can return to work part-time after a one-month break in service.

Wilcox receives retirement benefits from the Teacher Retirement System in addition to his salary from Longview ISD. The retirement check is money Wilcox paid into the system during his years of employment before retiring.

Also, because of legislation regarding the Teacher Retirement System, employees who retired after Jan. 1, 2011, and who did not have a minimum 12-month break in service are only eligible to work part time. That effectively means that the largest school district in the Gregg-Upshur-Rusk-Harrison county region has been operating with a part-time superintendent since February 2012.

The district continues to operate by delegating responsibility, board President Ted Beard has said.

“As an organization, we delegate, and we look to our assistant and deputy superintendents to oversee and manage, including during periods when (Wilcox) may not be there physically,” Beard has said.

Wilcox’s contract with the district calls for him to earn an annual salary of $103,750 — or about $8,646 per month. The district also pays him a $250 monthly travel stipend and pays $2,000 monthly into his annuity.

Before retiring, Wilcox earned $207,500 annually and received $550 per month for travel expenses. The district paid 6 percent, or about $1,037 a month, into the Teacher Retirement System on his behalf and contributed $1,666 monthly to his annuity.

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