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Consultants receive applications for Vilonia superintendent

By Tammy Keith

This article was published February 2, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

VILONIA — Fifteen people, including two Faulkner County administrators, have applied for the Vilonia School District superintendent position, said one of the consultants hired to do the search.

“I think there are 27, 28 that we got and 15 complete,” said Bobby Lester of Jacksonville.

Rose Bud native Lester and Bald Knob Superintendent Kieth Williams work for a Nebraska firm that has been hired by the Vilonia district for $10,000 to find a superintendent.

Vilonia Superintendent Frank Mitchell will retire in June after 28 years on the job.

Wednesday was the deadline to apply for the position. Lester said some people started the application process and missed the deadline or had incomplete applications.

“I’m very pleased with the applicant pool we received,” Williams said.

Lester and Williams both said they will meticulously weed through the candidates.

The applicants are as follows:

• Andy Ashley, Vilonia High School principal;

• John Gray, superintendent of the Mayflower School District;

• Virginia Allen of Warner, Okla., reading specialist and classroom teacher;

• Deborah Bruick-Jones, assistant superintendent of the Bryant School District;

• Randy Byrd, superintendent of the Berryville School District;

• Martha Dodson, Middle School principal at Paris (Logan County);

• Judith Jenkins, assistant superintendent of the De Queen School District;

• Teresa Ragsdale, superintendent of the Hartford School District;

• Robert Ross, superintendent of the Mansfield School District;

• Albert Snow, superintendent of the Norphlet School District;

• David Stephens, superintendent of the Nevada R-V School District in Nevada, Mo.;

• Elizabeth Stewart, assistant superintendent of the Pulaski County School District;

• Susan Stewart, superintendent of the Bismarck School District;

• Karen Walters, assistant commissioner for the Arkansas Department of Education; and

• David Westenhover, former superintendent of the Guy-Perkins School District.

“We bring back a minimum of three, and probably four or five, names,” Williams said.

“We do a lot more than look over them,” he said. “We do extensive background checks.”

Williams said once they choose applicants who have “the required skill set, we dig deeper and deeper and deeper.”

The board will recommend whether to accept the consultants’ recommendation or “pull another applicant from the stack,” Williams said.

“If they pull another one from the stack, they know why we didn’t choose them,” Williams said. “We approach this from a very objective perspective.”

The school board has provided its top-five criteria for a superintendent. No. 1 is someone who has central office experience, understands school finance and has experience in budgeting, Lester said.

A public meeting was held to get patrons’ input, too.

The Vilonia School District’s Board of Education will meet Feb. 11.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or


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