The Warren County Board of Education will hire an interim superintendent to lead the school district after current Superintendent Dr. Mary Young’s contract expires until the position can be filled on a permanent basis.

The board made the decision during a special meeting on Friday, April 23.

Young submitted her resignation earlier this year, and the board approved it during its March meeting. Young will fulfill the remainder of her current contract, which will expire on June 30. She began her tenure as superintendent here in July 2019.

During its discussion on Friday, board members indicated that, ideally, an interim superintendent would be in place on July 1.

The board’s decision comes while members consider how to conduct a search for Warren County Schools’ next superintendent. Members may select an outside firm or organization to lead the process or choose to handle the process on its own. However, any outside organization or firm that is hired to conduct the search will serve in more of an advisory and information gathering capacity. The decision of who will become the next superintendent will rest with the board of education.

The board began its request for proposal process earlier this month in the search for organizations and firms to lead the search process. RFPs were mailed or emailed to prospective search firms known to the school district, posted on the district website and social media, and newspaper advertisements published.

Board Chairwwoman Ebony Talley-Brame reported during Friday’s meeting that 13 RFP emails were sent to prospective search firms, but only three were returned:

• North Carolina School Boards Association, a professional organization that represents all local boards of education in North Carolina, at a cost of between $19,000 and $25,000. The association led the 2019 superintendent search. Talley-Brame indicated that the final cost at that time was around $25,000.

• Ray and Associates of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which specializes in education executive leadership searched. The projective cost for services would be between $18,500 and $22,000. Board members raised concerns about travel expenses, but noted that the firm includes a former member of the Durham Public Schools Board of Education and hoped that travel costs could be reduced if that more local person served as the lead consultant in the search process.

• The Masonboro Group of Wilmington, with a cost between $14,500 and $15,000. Board members noted that the firm is known for professional development and grant writing for school districts, and also leads superintendent searches.

In its discussion, the board indicated that it would like a nationwide search of potential candidates for the superintendent’s position in order to create a pool of applications as broad as possible. Board members said they plan to use community feedback from the 2019 search about the characteristics the public would like to see in a superintendent.

According to the board’s RFP timetable, members will be conducting virtual interviews with prospective search firms this week. The original timetable called for the superintendent search process to begin on May 3 with applications due by June 11.

The board set June 14-25 as its goal dates for the superintendent candidate interview process with a vote coming in late June. According to the original timetable, contract negotiations would be conducted in late June with the new superintendent to take office between July 1 and Aug. 1.

However, during Friday’s meeting, board members said that they did not want to rush the search process and did not want to set a specific time period for the interim superintendent to serve.