The Hattiesburg Public School District Board of Trustees has narrowed its pool of superintendent candidates from 31 to 10.
Executive Director of the Mississippi School Boards Association (MSBA) Mike Waldrop, who is helping HPSD in its search, said MSBA is not releasing names of the top 10 candidates because they have not all been notified.
Waldrop said all of the candidates HPSD will be interviewing are from Mississippi, and were asked by the school board to have a good financial background.
"The board sets the criteria, and one of their criteria, of course, is a good understanding of district level finances," Waldrop said. "When we interview candidates, we take the criteria that the board establishes, and we also work with the board to establish the criteria. Then, we focus our interview those criteria."
Waldrop said had several other qualities in mind when looking through applications.
"Proven track record of moving a district forward academically, community involvement, you know, a history of strong community involvement, communication skills, a knowledge of curriculum and instruction, things like that," he said.
He said MSBA has helped find new leadership for districts with similar financial and academic circumstances.
"Oh yes, we've done lots of similar situations like this," Waldrop said. "The issues always vary, but yes, we have done some with districts that are struggling financially, some that are struggling academically. We've done the whole spectrum."
Waldrop said he was impressed by the quality of the candidates who applied for the position.
"They had an excellent pool," he said. "We were very, very pleased with their pool. They had one of the strongest pools of candidates of any search we've done recently, so we anticipate they're going to have a really top-line superintendent in place shortly."
Waldrop said he "wasn't at liberty to release" when interviews for the candidates will begin, saying the school board needed to release that information first. WDAM 7 News reached out to board president Marcus Cathey and was told he was out of the office on Friday.
Waldrop said he is confident HPSD can find the right person to move the district forward in this group of candidates.
"I think it is going to be an excellent fit," he said. "I think the community is really going to be pleased with who they select because the candidates, all the candidates, that they're interviewing are very strong."