Muscogee County School District superintendent search: One of four semifinalists identified

Karyle Green, the superintendent of East Allen County Schools in New Haven, IN, is one of the four semifinalists to lead the Muscogee County School District, she confirmed Wednesday to the Ledger-Enquirer.

She is the only semifinalist to be publicly identified. The school board conducted the interviews in closed session Dec. 5. The board hasn't commented on the search since then, except for board chairwoman Cathy Williams' repeated statement: "The process is ongoing."

The board isn't scheduled to meet again this month, so it will miss its goal of hiring a superintendent by the end of this year. The next meeting is set for Jan. 14 at 5 p.m., which will be a work session. The board's next official meeting is set for Jan. 22 at 6 p.m.

Reached by phone at her Indiana office, Green agreed to talk only briefly when asked why she wants to be superintendent of Muscogee's 32,000-student district.

"I think that the Muscogee County School District has some amazing things happening," she said. "It is a wonderful community. I believe my skills and experience match what the Muscogee County School Board is looking for."

She declined to answer more questions beyond saying she still is interested in the job and isn't a candidate elsewhere.

"I know the Muscogee County School Board is proceeding with the utmost diligence," she said. " It's a very important -- probably the most important -- function they have as a board, and I respect their ability to work together to make the best decision for the district."

Green, 52, has been superintendent in East Allen (9,500 students) since 2009. She was among six candidates the Jackson, Tenn.-Madison County School Board (13,000 students) interviewed in public sessions last week. Four of those candidates, including Green, subsequently dropped out, the Jackson Sun reported.

Green was a finalist this year for the superintendent position in Jefferson County, Ala. (35,843 students) -- where Lee County superintendent Stephen Nowlin was hired -- and the Harrison School District (11,400 students) in Colorado Springs, Colo., as well as an alternate finalist in Mobile County, Ala. (63,000 students).

During her interview in Jackson, as reported by the Sun, Green said her leadership style is "collaborative."

"I value differences of opinion, and my cabinet is not full of people who all agree with me," she said.

And she showed the willingness to disagree when she criticized part of the Jackson board's strategic plan during her interview.

"I wouldn't wait until 2017 to have a 70 percent pass rate," Green said. "I think that's too long. You can't waste time in education. We should be finding the process to get students where they need to be quicker."

Green said in the Jackson interview that her top strengths are her years of experience in school districts of various sizes, her collaborative leadership style and her willingness to do the work.

The Sun also reported Green's board knows she is looking for another job. "I've got 10 to 15 years ahead of me," she said, "and I'm looking to move to a place where I want to get engaged in the community and retire."

Another nugget from the Sun's report on Green's interview: In her district, Green said, students are using iPads and moving away from traditional textbooks. "We took out a $2 million loan to fund the program," she said.

Green is vying to succeed Susan Andrews in Muscogee. Andrews announced her retirement in March, effective July 31, but she left a month earlier after the school board in May rejected her seven principal nominees and two other administrators.

Andrews spent 32 years in Harris County (4,782 students) as a teacher, principal and superintendent before she was hired in neighboring Muscogee in December of 2008. She replaced John Phillips Jr., who retired but now is Muscogee's interim superintendent.

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