A new superintendent for Baltimore County Schools might not come at a lower salary.
Lawrence Schmidt, president of the county school board, and Alan Leis, a consultant leading the search for a new superintendent, told county legislators that "a major reset of salary may not occur."
"I tell boards not to lock in too hard on the issue of salary," said Leis. "It really is about finding the right person for the job. I will tell you that given the market and given how hard it is to be a superintendent and how few people there are these days seeking those positions there isn't often a major re-set in the salary. That said, (Joe) Hairston is a highly paid superintendent and very few people would come with that amount of experience."
Hairston earned $303,000 in 2011.
Leis and Schmidt made their comments during an update Friday on the process of hiring a new superintendent. Hairston announced last year that he was leaving the Baltimore County Public Schools system after 12 years in the position.
Leis was in town last week listening to public comment on qualities sought in a new superintendent as well as interviewing teachers, administrators, community leaders and students.
The public can also participate by filling out an online superintendent search survey.
The report from Chicago-based Hazard, Young and Attea is expected by February 7.
Schmidt said the board hopes to hire a new superindent by April so there is "a seemless transition" when Hairston's contract expires on June 30.
Legislators had a wish list of qualities of their own.
Del. Dan Morhaim said he'd like to see a superintendent who is more involved in the classroom and perhaps even continues to teach.
"The actual work is not administrating the actual work is people," said Morhaim.
Others asked for a superintendent that is "sensitive to the needs of a diverse population."
While white students are the largest single demographic block, minority students make up 54 percent of the total school population, Schmidt told legislators.
Still others said they'd like a superintendent that is more approachable—a reference to repeated complaints from legislators and community groups who criticized Hairston for sometimes being aloof to their concerns.
"I think we'd like to see an approachable person," said Sen. Kathy Klausmeier. Someone who feels comfortable talking to parents. Someone who feels confortable talking to legislators, someone who is comfortable talking to business leaders."
"And maybe have a sense of humor," Klausmeier added, saying it wasn't a requirement "but it helps."
Both Leis and Schmidt told legislators that changing the board from an appointed board to an elected or partially-elected board could harm the search process.
"We do not view that as something that is favorable in recruiting a superintendent now," said Schmidt.
"It is the number one question: labor agreements and about the board and what it is to work with the board," said Leis.