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Rushford-Peterson School Board: Board will conduct superintendent search

Fri, Apr 13th, 2007
Posted in Education

At a special meeting on April 9, the R-P school board decided to go it alone hiring a new superintendent, rather than hiring an agency. A number of agencies that specialize in superintendent searches have contacted board members since it was announced several weeks ago that they were not renewing the contract of Superintendent Jeff Miller.

The board finds itself in the position of currently having only one administrator, high school principal Brad Johnson, in the entire system. The situation is the result of unforeseen events, like medical leaves and a retirement, but also is largely due to the board's own decision to oust Miller, who also served as the principal of the middle school.

After spending time looking at a sheet of potential administrator arrangements prepared by Roger Metz, Jim Kitchens expressed his opinion that he'd "like to see the superintendent call the shots."

The rest of the board concurred that it might be wise to first hire a superintendent, and then let that person make decisions about how many principals to hire and their specific duties, acknowledging that different superintendents might have varying management styles and different requirements of staff.

Chairman John Nitecki had brought in a copy of the current job description for the superintendent, which he shared with the board. Dan Munson asked "should we add something about 'represents the district to the community, and is involved in the community'?"

Nitecki agreed and recommended the board add this statement to the description: "Represents the district by participating and being involved in our communities' activities."

George Ingram was a bit reluctant to be so specific and favored a more general contract.

Kitchens agreed with Ingram, saying "it almost goes without saying the guy should know this."

Munson pointed out that putting something specific in a job description means it can be used later in performance evaluations, and the board added the phrase.

Then came a discussion on the merits of hiring agencies, and the cost.

"This district has a lot of great things going for it," Nitecki said. "I don't really think we need to hire an outside consultant to do this (hire a superintendent) on our behalf."

Nitecki admitted, however, that an agency would expedite the process. Nobody remembered that the district had ever used an agency in the past.

"What if we don't like any of the people they bring in?" Munson asked.

Ingram pointed out that if an agency was involved, there was a good chance they'd have a superintendent in place by fall.

All seemed concerned about the cost, but Metz expressed his belief, based on his past work hiring professionals in healthcare, that whether you conduct a search yourself or hire an agency, "dollar-wise, you're going to end up pretty close."

Still, Metz recommended that, "we consider trying to do it on our own, pick a deadline, establish a committee..."

Nitecki finished Metz's thought, "...and if we find that we're not getting very far, we could still hire a consultant later."

Kitchens said he'd favor which ever way would bring in the right person, even if "we have to spend some money."

Ingram agreed. "To get the right candidate, I don't care which way we go."

The board agreed to a May 18 deadline for applications, which will be directed to John Nitecki. A committee will be set up consisting of board members, staff members, the lone principal, and community members.

With the superintendent search question resolved, the board turned to the subject of negotiations with staff. Tentatively, Eric Thompson and Metz will represent the board, with the possibility of Greg Smith, who was absent.

In a final bit of business, Metz wanted to know why none of the board members had responded to his email asking whether they could set up a school board donkey basketball team. Excuses for ignoring Metz's email ranged from "I just got a new computer," to "I'm over the weight limit (to ride a donkey)."

"Well, I can't ride, but I could scoop," Metz joked.

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