The Board of Education of Anne Arundel County today unanimously awarded a contract to Ray & Associates to lead the search for Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ next superintendent.

The Board chose the firm over Illinois-based Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates. The Maryland Association of Boards of Education was also invited to submit a proposal, but declined. The contract will pay Ray & Associates $33,000 plus expenses.

“Ray & Associates impressed us with its attention to detail, flexibility, cultural sensitivity, and responsiveness,” said Board Member Stacy Korbelak, who chairs the ad hoc Superintendent Search Committee. “We look forward to being on this journey with them.”

Ray & Associates has been conducting searches for school system executives since 1975, and has been recognized by The School Administrator journal as one of the top search firms in the nation. The diverse firm – more than 40 percent of associates are minorities and/or women – has regularly provided presentations about its work at the presented at National School Boards Association, American Association of School Administrators, Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents Convention and the National Alliance of Black School Educators conferences.

The firm will be responsible for gathering public input on desired characteristics of the next superintendent, recruiting and screening applicants during the winter, and assisting the Board with arranging candidate interviews next spring. Ray & Associates plans to hold public forums to gather input the week of December 9.

After taking the input into consideration, the Board hopes to develop a formal job advertisement by early January and begin the interviewing process next spring.

Interim Superintendent Mamie J. Perkins’ contract runs through June 30, 2014. The new superintendent will begin a four-year term on July 1, 2014.