The New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. is in need of a new superintendent after it was announced Tuesday that Bruce Hibbard’s contract to lead the Franklin Township Community Schools Corp. was approved.

The search is already underway. A special meeting will be held today at 6:30 p.m. at Scribner Middle School, where the school board will likely name an interim superintendent.

Then the real work begins.

The board has a tall order to find Hibbard’s replacement. It will be choosing the next leader of a corporation that has nearly 12,000 students and a history of excellence in academics, athletics and the arts. So what qualities should the next superintendent have to move the corporation forward?

The role of public school superintendent has changed in the past decade. Not only does the leader of the corporation need to have a strong academic background when it comes to implementing programs to improve student achievement, but also they must be both a salesman and a promoter.

With corporations competing for students who are no longer bound by districts or county lines, a marketing plan needs to be in place to attract and retain those students. The superintendent is the face of the corporation, and he, or she, needs to be out there, touting the successes of the corporation. More than ever, the next superintendent should be as visible as possible.

The New Albany-Floyd County school district has plenty to brag about: two award-winning high schools, a fleet of outstanding elementary and middle schools, and a vocational school that is second to none. The next superintendent should invite the media and others in to help spread that message.

The next leader will have oversight of a complex business, with the daunting task of educating the next generation of leaders. It’s not an easy job.

Hibbard took over the corporation in August 2009 and excelled at spearheading programs to improve academic achievement. He is known as an academic guy, and Franklin Township made a good choice on its next leader.

“I think we are in a better place than we were when (Hibbard) got here,” board member Lee Cotner told the News and Tribune.

We would agree.

Now it’s New Albany-Floyd’s turn to pick its next superintendent.

The board needs to be open and thorough in its search. While this should be the board’s top priority, with an interim superintendent in place, there is no need to make a rushed decision. No doubt several candidates will come forward from both in-state and elsewhere to apply for this position.

The citizens of this county just committed their tax dollars to an $87-million referendum, funding demolition of Slate Run and Green Valley elementary schools and constructing new, state-of-the-art schools in their place. There will be other cosmetic improvements made to other school buildings over the next few years, too.

This is both an exciting and crucial time for NA-FC schools. There is a lot going on, both with new construction and with changing targets to hit through state testing.

When choosing, hopefully this board will look at all qualities and be open to all candidates. We need a strong leader, someone ready to move this corporation forward. As education continues to evolve, we need a leader with a strong personality, a history of academic excellence and someone willing to be the public face of the New Albany-Floyd County School Corp.

— The News and Tribune editorial board is comprised of Publisher Bill Hanson, Editor Susan Duncan, Assistant Editor Chris Morris and Assistant Editor Jason Thomas.

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