The Newton County Board of Education is one step closer to finding a new school superintendent to replace Dr. Steve Whatley, who earlier this school year announced his retirement effective June 30, 2010. Whatley has been superintendent since July 1, 2006. On February 10, members of the Newton County Board of Education met with Don Rooks, Georgia School Boards Association Director of Legislative and Superintendent Search Services to review the applications received. In November 2009, the school board selected the GSBA to conduct the nationwide superintendent search. The school system used an online survey provided by GSBA to seek the community's input on the qualifications most desired for the district's next superintendent and the GSBA assisted the school board in establishing the criteria for recruiting and selecting a new superintendent. The superintendent's position was announced on state and national Web sites and search materials were also distributed by mail. The deadline to submit applications was January 19. According to Rooks, the GSBA received 51 applications for the position. Of those 51 applicants, 37 are from Georgia, three are from Virginia, and two are from Michigan. Applications were also received from candidates from Ohio, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Maryland, Florida, and Alabama. In terms of educational degrees, the breakdown of candidates indicates that 35 have Educational Doctorates (Ed. D.), eight are Doctors of Philosophy in Education (Ph. D.), six have Education Specialist degrees (Ed. S.), and two hold Masters Degrees. Ten of the applicants are currently employed as superintendents; eight are assistant superintendents, three are associate superintendents, one is an area superintendent, and three are former superintendents. Nine principals have applied for the position as well as two human resources directors/chiefs, two assistant professors, and two executive directors. Other positions held by applicants include: adjunct faculty; coordinator of leadership services; managing partner; area coordinator; education specialist; chief academic officer; vice-president of student services; instructional supervisor; and director. One applicant is a former county commissioner and one is self-employed. "We reviewed all of the applications that met the qualifications set out by the board through GSBA and we are very encouraged by the wide range of individuals who have applied," said Cathy Dobbs, Chair of the Newton County Board of Education. "We are going to be very conscientious and thorough when selecting our finalists for interview." According to Dobbs, each of the board members is individually reviewing the applications in hand and will come back together before the next board meeting to meet with Rooks again to narrow the search. Dobbs added that there was not a set target date to announce the new superintendent. "We are going to do this on our own timetable," she said. "This is not a decision to be rushed into because we want to make sure that the right person is selected to be the next superintendent of our school system. Our goal is to make the right decision for the success of our students and the well-being of our community. " Once the school board has narrowed their selection to three or less finalists, their names and background information will be released to the general public and the media.