CHATSWORTH — The Murray County Board of Education is accepting applications for superintendent to replace Charlotte Pipkin and the board chairman hopes to have a new superintendent hired by Sept. 1.

Pipkin announced her decision to step down earlier this month, effective June 30, following weeks of controversy after she did not recommend high school principal Gary Mealer for the position next school year. Some residents said they preferred a return to an elected superintendent rather than one appointed by the board.

Board chairwoman Pat Hooker said she does not know how long the superintendent has been appointed. “Since superintendents have been appointed instead of elected, the average time they have stayed has been three years,” Hooker said. Pipkin is in her third year.

Board members do not expect to have another superintendent hired by the time Pipkin leaves.

“We know we will have to appoint an interim superintendent,” Hooker said. “I don’t know if we will do it at the June meeting (on the 12th at 7 p.m. at Chatsworth Elementary) or if we will have a called meeting toward the end of the month.

“My goal is to have someone hired by Sept. 1, and that’s really going to be pushing it. We’re not saying it will even be done by then.”

When a new superintendent is hired depends on if board members receive enough “worthy candidates” through the job posting on the Web site, Hooker said. Seven applications have already been received, she said.

“If we don’t get anything from the applications and have to go back through GSBA (the Georgia School Board Association) it will be even longer,” Hooker said. Board members used the association when they hired Pipkin, and for a few other superintendents prior to Pipkin.

For $7,000 the association will “do the superintendent searches for you,” Hooker said. “It seems expensive, but when you look at everything they do for you, it isn’t. They do everything that needs to be done to see if the candidate is truly a candidate,” including performing background checks.

The association sorts applications based on qualifications. Board members review all applications.

“We are not ruling out that we will do that again (use the GSBA). We are accepting applications until June 5. Then if we have received what we think are worthy candidates we will start interviews,” Hooker said.

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