The search is underway for a new director of education at the Greater Essex County District School Board.

Board chair Helga Bailey said a consulting firm has been hired to help in the search.

The deadline to apply is the end of May.

Bailey said there's a concern, though. There are more than the average number of directors and superintendents retiring at this time.

"We are anticipating a challenging time finding a new director," Bailey said. "There's an interesting situation throughout Ontario right now. We believe that there are a dozen directors that are retiring. It's a shocking number."

Bailey said "in-house applications" are being accepted.

She said there are capable "internal people" who can step up to take to the job.

Warren Kennedy is the director who's retiring. His official last day is the end of August.

Bailey hopes to have a new director hired by June.

Budget talks underway

In the meantime, the board is in the process of putting together its budget for the next school year.

The public school board has a budget of almost $400 million.

It issued a call for public input. But at Tuesday night's meeting, there were no delegations to speak on the budget. 

The meeting lasted less than 15 minutes.

Penny Allen, the superintendent of business, said the board is facing a deficit:

"I think there will be small deficit this year. I'm not sure how large yet. We still have operating reserves to cover it, but we still continue to work on it," she said. "We've been working on it all winter actually. We do have a larger-than-expected increase in special education students, which do require extra staffing."