Duval’s School Board on Wednesday picked three superintendent search firms to interview next week, but rejected a fourth firm which in 2012 had helped the district choose Nikolai Vitti.

 

The board received and opened four bid proposals from firms vying for the contract to search for Vitti’s permanent replacement.

Vitti left the district for Detroit in May. Since then Patricia Willis has been interim superintendent.

The board scored each firm based on experience and qualifications and on the scope of services proposed. Based on the score, the board plans to interview the top three — Hazard Young Attea and Associates, Springsted/Waters, and Ray and Associates Inc. — during a public board meeting at 9 a.m. Feb. 7 at district headquarters.

It is unclear how much each firm estimates it would charge for the search. The bids are exempt from public disclosure laws until a firm is selected or for 30 days, whichever comes first, said Karen Chastain, the district’s legal counsel.

So far, Hazard Young scored the highest percentage of points, 75 percent, while Springsted/Waters was close with 73 percent. Ray and Associates had 59 percent and McPherson & Jacobson LLC had 47 percent of the points.

Some of the board members criticized McPherson’s application, calling it inefficient, redundant, and a template. Board member Rebecca Couch noted that it had several misspelled words and referred to Duval as “Peoria” or “JJJJ” in its text.

“It’s a total of 120 pages but there are so many blank spaces,” said Board Chairwoman Paula Wright. “That’s how you know it’s a template.”

Board member Cheryl Grymes said McPherson “obviously did not do their homework in the last search.”

She was referring to the 2011-2012 superintendent search, during which Couch discovered some blemishes on the education certificates of a few of the candidates McPherson brought to the board.

McPherson President Thomas Jacobson did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

In a related action, Duval’s board also set dates and locations for the first community meetings to get input on desirable characteristics for a future superintendent.

The meetings will all be held at 6 pm., beginning March 1 at the Wells Fargo Historic Springfield Community Learning Center, 1601 N. Main St. On March 5 it will be at Wolfson High School, 7000 Powers Ave.; on March 8 it will be at The Legends Center, 5130 Soutel Drive; and on March 12 it will be at Lee High School, 1200 McDuff Ave. S.

The board also will hold four “stakeholder” group meetings but locations have yet to be decided. There also will be two meetings for district and school staff: at 9 a.m. March 3 and 6 p.m. March 14, both at district headquarters, 1701 Prudential Drive.

Denise Smith Amos: (904) 359-4083