Creswell, Education

Public gives input on super search

The Creswell School Board enlisted community feedback through an online survey and input sessions on March 21 and 22 to help create a list of qualities and qualifications that the board would utilize to advertise the superintendent position.
Steve Kelley, director of Board Development for Oregon School Boards Association, told the board there were 107 survey participants and around 70 people he spoke to in person or on the phone who shared their thoughts.
During the March 21 input session, Kelley and Sarah Herb, OSBA executive search and events specialist, asked the group three questions: What are the strengths of the school district and community, what are the challenges within the school district, and what are the qualities and qualifications wanted in a new superintendent.
Strengths included the school’s programs and its involvement with the community; however, challenges included a lack of funding and maintaining the old buildings, bullying and transparency between the community and district.
Qualities and Qualifications ranged from being transparent and communicating with the community, working with the community, long-term commitment, visionary, visible to the community, past teaching experience and being approachable.
”It may seem like the result is a superhero and you may not get a candidate that has all of (the qualities)” Herb said, ”but the key is to know what the district wants, what the focus is and finding a candidate that best fits it. That’s why these input meetings are so important.”
The following day another input session was scheduled, however, no one attended and at 6:30 p.m. the board met for its special meeting. Board Director Paul Randall motioned to declare a vacancy of the superintendent position as of July 1, 2019; Board Director Lacey Risdal seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.
Afterwards the board approved the search process calendar, which was presented on March 13, outlining the timeline of application deadlines, forming a screening committee, reviewing superintendent applications, interviews, narrowing the pool down to finalists and hiring a candidate. The Chronicle laid out the timeline in an article on March 21.
Risdal moved to approve the calendar, Board Director Kandice Lemhouse seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
Before the meeting, Kelley had compiled the feedback he received during the public input sessions into a bulleted list of 12 qualities and qualifications that Creswell citizens wanted in their next superintendent.
Kelley said he looked for patterns in the information he got in public sessions, and the list is prioritized by what the community found to be the most important. Risdal said that she really liked the list and ”felt it was really representative” of what the data showed. The only differences made to the list were word changes and additions that clarified the sentence or built on those ideas.
In order the approved qualities and qualifications that a successful candidate must demonstrate are:
n High degree of integrity/honesty;
n Background in teaching and building administration at multiple levels; preferably in small rural communities with diverse populations;
n Effective and transparent communication; good listening skills;
n Always puts children and families first; commitment to serving ALL students;
n Outstanding budget and finance skills; grant-management skills preferred;
n Ability to build and sustain strong, effective community partnerships that impact student success;
n Is personable/approachable;
n Proven ability to make tough decisions when necessary and effectively communicate the reasons (transparency);
n A creative leadership style that collaborates, builds consensus and empowers innovation while building a respectful work environment;
n Values the district’s current best practices/programs;
n Visibility in our schools and community;
n Willingness to make a long-term commitment to our school district/community; residence within the school district is preferred.
Risdal moved to adopt the desired qualities and qualifications list; Lemhouse seconded and it passed unanimously.
During the discussion Board Director David Eusted added that the board values Board Secretary Marilyn Cruzan’s opinion and thoughts and he ”wants her to feel comfortable that we value her feelings and thoughts throughout the whole process.”
Afterwards, the discussion focused on the screening committee. Although the board didn’t vote on the date and time of the screening committee training, they agreed to it being held April 24 and May 2 at 7 p.m. in the district office board room.
For identifying the potential screening committee members, Risdal had a list of 15 positions that she wanted in ”her perfect world” that would include the three principals, four administrative staff, two union representatives for classified and certified teachers, a community member on site council from the middle school and high school, a PTO from the Parent Teacher Organization at the elementary school and three teachers.
Kelley cautioned in having such a specific and restrictive list in mind because there may not be members from those specific groups who will apply or who could apply because they have to commit to specific dates. ”It takes a lot of time,” he said.
Due to spring break the week of March 25 and the district office being closed, the earliest the board could open screening committee applications was April 1. Applications need to be returned to the office by noon on April 8. The members will be chosen by the board on April 10 and successful candidates will be contacted on April 11.
Lastly, the board reviewed the salary compensation study, which compared superintendent salaries between size equivalent school districts in the area. Kelley said that the board wouldn’t take action on the salary that night, but the board agreed to give Kelley permission to advertise the proposed salary range of $115,000 to $130,000.
The board adjourned at 7:42 p.m. The next board meeting will be held on April 10 at 7 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.



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