Three education consultants now sifting through 133 applications for the post of Alexandria school superintendent will narrow the list to half a dozen names for presentation to the Alexandria school board.
The board will interview each of the candidates selected by the consultants before making a final decision next month.
Many questions, such as age and whether the applicant has an arrest record, are prohibited by federal equal employment opportunity regulations, said Dr. Forrest Conner, who is chairman of the consultant group.Such restrictions make it more difficult to choose a superintendent unless the applicant himself decides to provide more informaion, Conner said. He added that many applicants do choose to provide such information.
Conner said such restrictions also are part of the reason that there is heavy reliance by the consultations on recommendations of friends "who know comers, the good people and their territory."
The person finally selected in Alexandria will be a man or woman with a strong administrative background in education, who knows how to deal with many different ethnic groups, who views integration "something that works," and "who knows what chalk dust smells like," Conner said.
Applications for the job, which pays in the mid-$40,000 range, have been received from Nova Scotia, India, the District and 29 states. Twenty-nine applicants are from New York, with 11 each from Michigan and Virginia.
Brochures about the job were sent to the 60 universities and colleges that train superintendents, Conner said.
Alexandria has had only two superintendents in the last 47 years, a school spokesman said. The current superintendent, Dr. John C. Albohm, announced in late January that he will retire at the end of this academic year.
Conner said the Alexandria school system, with 13,300 students, is the ideal size with many administrators.
"The larger school system, the fewer the applications," he said. He said that when he helped Montgomery County pick its superintendent there were 78 applicants. The Montgomery County school system has 117, 630 students.
Alexandria has 13 elementary schools, three junior high schools, two ninth and tenth grade schools, and one high school. This past fall, it became Washington's first suburban school system to have more black students than white students. It also has a large percentage of students with other ethnic backgrounds.
Because of the diversity of Alexandria's student body, Conner said an appication from someone "from an area where you'd have to get a search party and bloodhounds to find Indians or blacks" wouldn't have much of a chance.
The consultant added that every batch of applications includes a few "weird" forms. He said that in his past experience, he remembered receiving an application for superintendent from a social studies teacher "who figured he had nothing to lose" and one from a man whose experience was as a colonel with the Army Quartermaster Corp.
Conner is executive secretary emeritus of the American Association of School Administrators. The other two consultants are Dr. Elizabeth D. Koontz, former president of the National Education Association who is now with the North Carolina department of public instruction, and Dr. Carroll F. Johnson, a former superintendent who is now with Teachers College at Columbia University. Conner, as chairman, is to be paid $2,000 for his consultant services, and Koontz and Johnson will be paid $1,500 each, plus expenses.