PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - The search for a new Pass Christian school superintendent is entering its final stages. On Thursday, the school board finished interviewing the finalists for the position.
Pass Christian Superintendent Beth John is just five weeks away from retirement. The school board president admits finding John's successor has not been easy.
"We have some very good candidates. Of course, it's hard to interview potential superintendents when one that you have respected for so long is leaving," said Pass Christian School Board President Margaret Jean Kalif.
A pool of 24 applicants was narrowed to six. The board interviewed three finalists on Tuesday and the other three candidates Thursday. The person selected will oversee a top-ranked school district in Mississippi. Kalif said she wants someone who can uphold the district's reputation for academic excellence, while facing the challenge of state budget cuts.
"We're looking for a superintendent who can walk into the culture of the Pass Christian School District, positive attitude, energetic, leads without micromanaging," said Kalif. "It's someone who cannot only maintain our level of achievement, but to challenge our teachers and principals to go even higher."
Liberty Fontana has one question she'd like to ask the candidates.
"What can they do to make Pass Christian better than it already is?" Fontana asked.
Fontana has two children enrolled in schools in the Pass. She was also the district's Parent of the Year during the 2014-2015 school year. She wants to see a leader who can help the district grow.
"Someone who's open and willing to listen to the concerns, comments, things going on and be willing to adapt to those changes and keeping that commitment to excellence," said Fontana.
"Those shoes are going to be hard to fill, because with the leadership of Beth John, helping us to maintain the high scholastic, emotional bar, it's going to be a tough position to fill," said Kalif.
The district's leadership team will now rate each applicant. The team is made up of the current superintendent, principals, assistant principals, department heads and the police chief. The board will use their input to make its final decision. Kalif hopes to name a new superintendent as early as next week.