VIRGINIA BEACH--Following Tuesday's announcement that Virginia Beach Public School Superintendent Dr. James Merrill will be leaving, the school board says they plan to sign a contract with an Illinois company to help find his replacement.

Wake County Schools in Raleigh, N.C. named Merrill as its new superintendent Tuesday night.

Wake County Schools' spokesperson Renee McCoy confirms Merrill will make $275,000 a year for four years, which is over $50,000 more than his salary in Virginia Beach.

VBPS will hire Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates', who specialize in aggressive recruitment for school boards. In 2006, VBPS paid the company $40,000 to conduct a superintendent search that resulted in Merrill's hiring.

Board Chair Dan Edwards says the contract will be less this time around because the Beach has become a familiar client and the match-up won't be starting from scratch.

Beginning in September, the school board will seek public input to come up with a profile of who the next superintendent should be. 'We will have a public input process in September where we will hold focus groups with the parents and businesses,' Edwards said.

Edwards adds that initially, they will probably look for someone who has leadership style much like Merrill. In particular, the plan is to find someone who can continue leadership over Merrill's pet-project, 'Compass to 2015.'

The goal of 'Compass to 2015' is to steer teachers away from teaching from standardized tests and refocus on teaching critical thinking, real-life and workplace skills.

Deputy Superintendent Dr. Sheila Magula will serve as interim superintendent until a replacement is found.

Merrill's last day is July 31st.

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