By Chris McGuinness
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE- A handful of residents gathered in the cafeteria of Copperas Cove High School Thursday night to voice their opinions about just what they would like to see from their school district's newest superintendent.
The meeting was one of two Thursday gatherings hosted by Education Solutions & Services Inc., the private consulting firm hired to assist the district's board of trustees in its search for a top administrator to replace retiring Superintendent Rose Cameron.
Cameron, who has been superintendent for the past six years, tendered her resignation in January. She will leave after the current school year.
Mike Smith, the firm's chief executive officer, said the meetings were "profiling sessions" where teachers, parents and other members of the public could freely express their opinions about what they want from the next superintendent of the Copperas Cove Independent School District.
"It's been very productive, and we really want to hear what you have to say," Smith told an audience of eight people at the second session of the day. "When we get down to a short list of candidates, we are going to be able to bring up these issues to them, and let them know what you are concerned about."
The 6 p.m. session occurred just after a similar meeting with district staff, which was attended by about 30 people.
Myrna Hart, a 10th- and 11th-grade English teacher, said she wanted a superintendent who would continue to improve academic performance, and who had significant experience working inside the classroom.
"There needs to be a strong educational background, and a willingness to continue learning about what's new in education," said Hart. "Someone who stays on top of changes in education and finds what will work."
In addition to stressing the needs for a strong educational background, longtime Cove resident Marty Smith said she wanted the district's superintendent to have Cameron's ability to network with outside organizations to protect the district interests and funding.
"(Cameron) and her staff were always out there talking with officials from the military or the people in government to help keep those relationships strong," Smith said. "I think that's very important."
Nearly all those in attendance agreed that they wanted a superintendent who was active in the community outside of the district.
"We want someone who is invested in this community, and who will be out there and visible," said Peter Simpson, a Cove resident and CCISD graduate. "It's more than just having a mailbox in town, but really living and being a part of (Copperas Cove)."
Glynn Powell, a former teacher, principal and board member in the Cove district, agreed with Simpson.
"The people who live here want someone who cares," said Powell. "They want to see someone who's out there with the kids, who talks to the parents ... someone who is accessible."
The need for a superintendent who was invested in the community was a strong theme that ran through both meetings, said Smith.
"Everyone we talked to has been very positive," said Don Rogers, Smith's associate. "They really want to continue having a strong leadership."
At the meeting Thursday, Smith said he expected to have close to 55 applicants for the position, which his firm hopes to whittle down to a "short list" of qualified applicants to present to the board for further consideration.
As of Thursday night, Smith said the district has received 35 applications for the position.
"It's a very high number," Smith said. "The depth of that pool is very good."
CCISD will accept applications until March 30 and will begin interviewing in early April.
Smith said the trustees hope to announce a finalist for the position by April 23 and vote to hire the next superintendent the week of May 14.
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.