by Staff Reporter Nora Drenner
“It is now time to reduce and move forward,” said Natchitoches Parish School Board president Billy Benefield during his opening statement at the start of the special called meeting on Tuesday, March 3, to continue the selection process for a new superintendent.
NPSB attorney Robert Hammonds agreed saying, “now the fun starts.” The board interviewed 14 candidates late last month and the purpose of the Tuesday night meeting was to narrow that list.
Following discussion, the board agreed to hold one round of interviews with five finalists. Interviews will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, March 10 and 11, beginning at 6:15 p.m. each night.
Prior to the start of interviews each night, a meet and greet with candidates takes place at 5:30 p.m. to allow the public to ask questions in an informal setting.
During this round of interviews Hammonds will be the one to ask questions with the board having no prior knowledge of the questions. Board members will have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions.
In open session, the board selected its finalists via a paper ballot with each board member required to choose five and sign their ballot. President Benefield then read each board members selection.
Rhonda Guidroz selected Grant Eloi, Brandy Branigan Lawrence, Dr. Paul Nelson, Ted Reeves and Jesse Winston.
Tan’Keia Palmer selected Grant Eloi, Dr. Curtis Green, C. Michael Robinson, Julio Torro and Jesse Winston.
Dorothy McGaskey selected Grant Eloi, Dr. Curtis Green, Theresa Hamilton, Brandy Branigan Lawrence and Jesse Winston.
Billy Benefield selected Grant Eloi, Dr. Terrie Johnson, Brandy Branigan Lawrence, Ted Reeves and Jesse Winston.
Katrina Willis selected Grant Eloi, Dr. Curtis Green, Brandy Branigan Lawrence, C. Michael Robinson and Jesse Winston.
Reba Phelps selected Grant Eloi, David Gray, Dr. Curtis Green, Eddie Jones and Brandy Branigan Lawrence.
Eugean Garner selected Grant Eloi, Dr. Terrie Johnson, Eddie Jones, Ted Reeves and Jesse Winston.
Steven Harris selected Dr. Curtis Green, Brandy Branigan Lawrence, Dr. Paul Nelson, C. Michael Robinson and Jesse Winston.
Beverly Broadway selected Grant Eloi, David Gray, Dr. Curtis Green, Dr. Terrie Johnson and Brandy Branigan Lawrence.
Russell E. Danzy selected Grant Eloi, Brandy Branigan Lawrence, Ted Reeves, Julio Torres and Jesse Winston.
Emile Metoyer selected Grant Eloi, Dr. Curtis Green, Brandy Branigan Lawrence, C. Michael Robinson and Jesse Winston.
Once all the choices were read, the votes were tallied with Grant Eloi, Jesse Winston, Dr. Curtis Green and Brandy Branigan Lawrence receiving the most votes.
Ted Reeves and C. Michael Robinson tied for the fifth spot, so the board went back to the paper ballot to make their selection between the two.
Via a vote of 7-4 Robinson was selected as the fifth finalist with Palmer, McGaskey, Phelps, Metoyer, Harris, Broadway and Willis giving the nod to Robinson and Garner, Danzy, Guidroz and Benefield saying yes to Reeves.
Green, Winston and Lawrence will be interviewed on March 10, and Robinson and Eloi will be interviewed on March 11. The order of interviews was chosen by drawing.
Next, the board divided into groups of two to conduct extensive background checks on the finalists with Garner and Palmer conducting a check on Grant Eloi; Harris and Broadway scrutinizing Winston; Danzy and McGaskey inspecting Green; Phelps and Metoyer checking Lawrence; and Guidroz and Willis examining Robinson.
The board will go into executive session on March 10 at 4:30 p.m.to hear the findings of the respective background checks.
Lastly, the board unanimously gave the nod to paying the expenses of the five finalists trekking back to Natchitoches for this round of interviews. The initial 14 candidates paid their own expenses during the first round of interviews.
Noted was that following the interviews, the board could make a final selection however, they are not obligated to do so. Instead, the board could decide neither finalist made the cut, and as a result they could chose to select another group of finalists from the remaining nine candidates.
Folks are reminded redacted copies of superintendent applications can be found on the Natchitoches Parish School Board website at http://www.npsb.la, and the Natchitoches Parish Journal recorded live all interviews which can be viewed online.