By JEROD CLAPP
NEW ALBANY — Carmel Clay Schools has announced Bruce Hibbard, superintendent of New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp., as one of three finalists for their district’s top spot.
Hibbard was given a $28,500 raise just more than a year ago by his district’s board of trustees. After that vote, Mark Boone — a board member who was the board president at the time of the raise — said he was concerned Hibbard would leave the district partially because of his low salary relative to superintendents in similar districts.
Before the raise, Hibbard was announced as a finalist for superintendent jobs in Florida and Tennessee in April 2011.
In an emailed statement, Hibbard said moving to Carmel — which is just north of Indianapolis — would bring his family closer to his parents and in-laws.
“This is a great opportunity for me and my family,” Hibbard said in the statement. “If I am fortunate to get the job, it will allow my parents and my wife’s mother to spend more time with our children. My wife is from a very close family and she really misses being close to home.”
Hibbard is scheduled to attend a community listening session in Carmel at 4 p.m. today, March 27.
Tricia Reynolds, community relations coordinator for Carmel Clay Schools, said their board will deliberate in executive session after the last finalist session Thursday to begin naming their choice for the job. She said after a contract is negotiated with that candidate, it should be announced sometime in April. Reynolds said Hibbard’s name was submitted through a company they used to field candidates, BWP Consulting.
The contract of Carmel Clay Schools’ outgoing superintendent, Jeff Swensson, shows his base salary as of 2011 at $163,569. Hibbard’s base salary is $170,500.
D.J. Hines, New Albany-Floyd County’s board president, said he doesn’t think Hibbard’s application to another district is linked to pay, but personal connections and other reasons. He said Carmel Clay Schools might appear to be a little more prestigious than New Albany-Floyd County Schools and the family component of the issue is something the district just can’t compete with.
He also said because of the work he’s done here in improving Adequate Yearly Progress and ISTEP+ scores, it’s possible that he was encouraged to apply rather than actively seeking another job.
“I think people need to be aware that although every employee in the school corporation deserves a great amount of credit by the community for the strides that have been made, the real credit in the wider community for all the advances we’ve made in student performances fall back on Bruce Hibbard,” Hines said. “He’s the one that’s going to get the credit, and with that comes notoriety. With that, comes probably the possibility or likelihood that rather than having a resume out there, there are people that are probably going to be people that approach him.”
Rebecca Gardenour, board member, voted against Hibbard’s raise last year. She said didn’t think the district was in a good financial position to pay him more, nor did she think a raise would keep him from looking for employment elsewhere.
“I was surprised, but then I wasn’t surprised just because I’ve had the feeling ever since he’s been here that he wanted to go to the Indianapolis area, regardless of what we paid him,” Gardenour said.
Hines said if Hibbard does get the job in Carmel Clay Schools, he’ll be missed.
“I wish him the best,” Hines said. “If he becomes their candidate and they can work a contract out, I will miss him greatly. I think he’s served the community very, very well. I hope that we can as a board, if something does happen, that we can ensure the continuity of our direction is maintained.”
This story has been updated.