The Howard County Public School System is well on its way to filling its top job, with an application posted and a community survey circulating. The whole process could wrap by early June, according to the school board.

Among the candidates will be Acting Superintendent Bill Barnes.

“I am excited to be part of the process and hope to have the opportunity to continue serving students and staff as the permanent HCPSS Superintendent,” Barnes said in a statement to The Baltimore Banner this week.

An application for the job closes April 11. The listed annual salary for the four-year term begins at $276,000.

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While the hiring timeline is subject to change, the school board is slated to select candidates for interviews on May 2, conduct semifinalist interviews May 8 and May 10, and interview finalists on May 17 and 18. A new superintendent should be selected in early June.

The board’s preferred start date for the superintendent is July 1.

An online survey launched Monday, seeking community input on what the board is looking for in a new superintendent. The questionnaire asks for thoughts on experience, priorities, leadership qualities and ways to show value and community engagement. The survey will close April 5.

“No final decisions will be made based on the results of this survey,” it says.

Howard’s superintendent search comes after Michael Martirano suddenly announced his retirement in November. Martirano’s last day was Jan. 10, marking 18 months into a four-year contract that would have ended in June 2026. His salary was $292,197 this school year, according to the Maryland State Department of Education.

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In December, the school board appointed Barnes, then the district’s chief academic officer, to the acting superintendent position. Barnes assumed the role on Jan. 10 and will stay in the acting position through June 30.

“When we thought about what was best for the students and staff right now, the Board agreed that Mr. Barnes’ history and experience could lead our system well,” Board Chair Jen Mallo said in a December statement. “Mr. Barnes knows the system, people, and culture of Howard County schools and students. His leadership and teaching experience will help him seamlessly transition into this role.”

Barely a week into the job, Barnes faced a “difficult budget process,” proposing triple-digit staffing cuts, larger class sizes and eliminating well-liked school programs to deal with a $103.8 million budget gap. The school board reduced the number of proposed staffing cuts and restored many proposed eliminations the community rallied to protect. The $1.5 billion budget is now waiting for county approval.

The board selected McPherson & Jacobson LLC to assist with a national search for a new superintendent.

With the application, the firm has posted a six-page document briefing candidates on the school system, what it needs out of a superintendent and the desired qualifications. It also includes a long list of essential duties and responsibilities.

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