The Journal Gazette
Thursday, February 18, 2021 1:00 am

SACS board talks superintendent search

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

The elected leaders of Southwest Allen County Schools have started discussing the big task ahead of them this year – finding Superintendent Phil Downs' successor.

Downs announced four weeks ago he will retire Dec. 31. He has led the 7,700-student district since 2014.

A school board meeting Tuesday didn't involve any formal decisions about the search, but Vice President Jennifer Bennett presented information about local, state and national resources available to help with the hiring process, district spokeswoman Stacey Fleming said.

Board President Brad Mills described the discussion as the first step to develop a hiring plan, process and timeline.

“We are thankful for the time Dr. Downs has given us to hire his successor,” Mills said in a statement. “I am confident all decisions made in the next few weeks will move our community in the right direction of ultimately naming the next SACS superintendent who will continue the district's tradition of innovation and success preparing today's learners for tomorrow's opportunities.”

SACS is the second local district in two years to undergo a superintendent search.

Fort Wayne Community Schools last year hired Mark Daniel to succeed longtime leader Wendy Robinson upon her June 30 retirement.

FWCS – one of the state's largest districts with almost 30,000 students – enlisted firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates to aid with the nationwide search.

The process involved opportunities for public input.

East Allen County Schools last changed leaders in 2017, when Ken Folks retired after leading the district for four years.

EACS promoted Marilyn Hissong to the post; she previously served as assistant superintendent of elementary education.

Northwest Allen County Schools hasn't sought a new leader for over a decade.

It hired Chris Himsel in 2010 after an almost yearlong search prompted by Steve Yager's departure for SACS.

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