Creswell, Education

Expedited search for super underway

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The superintendent search process is underway for Creswell schools, after current Superintendent Todd Hamilton announced March 7 that he will be leaving in July to become the Springfield Public Schools superintendent. But with a truncated schedule for a community input period – just one week – the community will need to act fast to have their voices heard.
The community can be involved in the initial process in two ways: by taking an online survey (links below) or by participating in one, two or both community input sessions slated for Thursday, March 21 and Friday, March 22 both at 6 p.m. in the boardroom in the district office. A special board meeting will follow the Friday input session at 6:30 p.m.
The purpose of these input sessions is to gather information about the desired qualifications for the new superintendent and to identify strengths and areas for improvement.
The survey takes between five and 10 minutes to complete. Questions on the survey include: What is working well in the district that needs to be preserved? What areas need to be improved to move the district to greater success? And what are the personal or professional characteristics that you feel are important for a successful superintendent in the district?
This information is being collected by a search and planning consultant, and a report of the overall results will be submitted to Creswell School Board (CSB) for its consideration in developing a profile for prospective candidates.
English-speakers can take the survey at, while Spanish-speakers can take the survey at
CSB on March 13 held a lengthy discussion on whether to go with a shortened search time for a new, permanent superintendent, or go with an interim superintendent so there can be more time to conduct a search.
Director Kandice Lemhouse, by phone, suggested giving two weeks to community input instead of one week. But Director Risdal noted that that second week, March 25 through 29, is spring break and the likelihood of staff, teachers and families being around to collect input from would likely be slim.
The other option would be to hire an interim superintendent for the year, but the board ultimately agreed that hiring an interim would put the community and school staff in limbo longer and felt confident they could still get a permanent superintendent, despite the condensed schedule.
However, if the pool of candidates does not seem fruitful, the CSB can opt to performing and interim search, an option Chair Tim Rogers called ”plan B.”
Steve Kelly, director of Board Development, for Oregon School Boards Association gave a presentation to CSB about the superintendent search process.
He said that the process of finding a new superintendent is the most important thing that the board does, and that while this is not the typical time to search for a new superintendent, Kelly anticipates ”a very good candidate pool” of about 20 to 25 candidates. ”We have time to do this,” he said.
Board Director Lacey Risdal was concerned about the one-week timeline to collect community input, questioning how an adequate sample size could be collected, and how much face-to-face community interaction there could be under that timeframe. Kelly said they would hit the ground running as soon as he got the OK from the board, and that the online tool is especially helpful for speedy data collection.
After community input is collected online and at the public sessions next week, the four-week advertising period begins on March 25, which will likely run through April 19.
Director Risdal asked what the typical advertising period would be if the timeline wasn’t considered, and Kelly said he normally likes to have six to eight weeks but ”will be aggressive” in the search.
On April 10, the public will be invited again into the superintendent search process, when a group of 10 to 15 community members will screen the submitted superintendent applications.
”It is a great way to involve additional folks, especially staff, in the process,” Kelly said.
On April 24, CSB and the screening community members will be trained on how to look at resumes, cover letters and recommendations, and will be ”turned loose on the applications,” Kelly said.
CSB and the screening community members will be given a password-protected thumb drive and a screening guide, and then will rank the applicants and send in their top 10 candidates through a survey.
On May 2, Kelly will come back to Creswell to have a conversation based on those rankings, and will have a discussion with CSB and the screening committee. From that discussion, they choose the top candidates – between five and eight people.
On May 12 through 14, those top candidates will be invited back for interviews. The screening committee will sit off to the side during that time, but will be able to observe the interviews and give input to CSB. The pool is ultimately narrowed down to the finalists, likely three candidates.
Information on the candidates will not be made public until they are are narrowed down to the final three. This is done to protect the identity of those in the hiring pool whose employers may not be aware they are seeking other employment, Kelly said.
The names of the finalists will then be made public, and on May 28, the finalists will be escorted to the schools and introduced to teachers, staff and the community.
On the evening of May 28, there will be another public forum, in which the final candidates are brought in one at a time. Candidates will be given three-to-five-minutes to speak, and then Kelly will moderate a question-and-answer session for each candidate.
On May 29, CSB will meet and discuss the interviews, with the final decision to be made by CSB on June 5, approximately.



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