After moving in slow motion for nine months, the Muscogee County School Board is in a deadline race with the clock and the calendar as it searches for a new superintendent of education.
Consider these issues:
If the board is going to schedule an executive session Monday to discuss the hiring of a new superintendent, it must act before the close of business today to meet legal requirements for such a session.
If the board doesn't think one of the four candidates interviewed Wednesday measures up, the calendar will get in the way as the Christmas season is just around the corner.
If the board is adamant that current members will make the decision on Susan Andrews' successor, only 24 days remain before two newly elected members take office.
If this board does not reach a decision by Dec. 31, they will revert to ground zero for the new members have been locked out of the search process.
Why the school board backed itself into such a corner is baffling. Andrews said she was quitting March 12 and that she would stay on the job until July 31.
That should have given the board time to comfortably begin the search process, time to decide whether an outside search firm was needed, time to identify a headhunter group and time to recruit the best possible candidate.
Now we see the board eliminating 18 candidates in 90 minutes and inviting the four survivors to town for a one-day battle royale that left everyone out of breath. The idea that board members could judge anyone in a 105-minute interview is laughable.
Lost in the last-minute rush is any hint of transparency. We don't know if those 22 names were a serious list of candidates who could do the job. We don't know how the board eliminated 18 names so quickly, and we know nothing about the interviews Wednesday.
We certainly aren't privy to the individual conversations among board members that have been going on since Wednesday. But never fear, we're told the two finalists will meet the public.
Maybe we'll get some details at the board's regular meeting Monday at the Public Education Center at 6 p.m. Maybe not, for the subject is not on the agenda.
More than likely we'll have a new superintendent before New Year's. The board wants James Walker and Norene Marvets to help make the selection, not newcomers A.J. Senior and Shannon Heflin. It makes sense that the panel would want the wisdom of two veteran members but politics may outweigh the practical. In the shadows is talk that Cathy Williams might not be reelected as chairwoman -- another factor that could reroute the search process if it extends into 2013.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.
-- Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.