The Creswell School Board has 26 applicants for its superintendent position after more than 30,000 people were emailed about the job opening, said Sarah Herb, executive search specialist for the Oregon School Boards Association.
The school board met April 24 for a training session that included board members and the superintendent screening committee. An executive session, which also focused on the superintendent search, board members said, followed the open session.
Herb gave an overview, touching topics that she said might seem like common knowledge, but was important. She stressed that every application should be read, the importance of having an open mind, keeping Creswell's specific needs in mind and the importance of current letters of reference.
Herb warned against unconscious bias during interviews, where people might discriminate based on age, for instance, without even realizing it.
”It's a slippery slope,” Herb said. ”You have to get in your brain to not allow it to go in that area.”
The same, she added, goes towards a person's gender, sexual orientation, marital status, race, national origin, religion or disability.
Herb also went through a sample application packet. Each applicant must have filled out an application form, cover letter, resume, statement on educational philosophy, proof of licensure and three to five letters of recommendation.
Going through the sample application, Herb pointed out potential red flags, such as length of employment or jumping positions in a nonlinear fashion.
”In education, if you leave in April or May, does that send a red flag?” Herb asked to the group. ”It might be worth looking into. It doesn't mean discount them, but it means taking a little more thought and looking around later on. If asked to interview, any questions you had out of the packet get addressed in the interview.”
One of the questions in the series asks whether they have been investigated by the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC). Herb said anyone can make a complaint to TSPC against anyone in Oregon and it's required to be investigated, and those investigations aren't always timely. She added to look at the facts and the situation if a candidate has been in that situation.
When it comes to looking at a resume, Herb pointed out that it is nice to see if there is a community activities section, because if a candidate is active in their current community, they may become active in Creswell's as well, which was a quality that community members wanted to see.
For the letter of interest and philosophy of education, Herb said to view them as writing samples and base them on how interested they are in the job, how much research they put in and if they are saying things they have done versus things they want to do.
”Everyone knows the buzzwords,” Herb said about what goals someone could have for the district.
With the letters of recommendation, she said reading the tone in each one to see which are written as a polite gesture and which are written because they believe the candidate is the best fit for this job. Herb added that while letters from supervisors are important, don't automatically discount a candidate if there isn't one because they might not have told their supervisor yet
”But,” she added, ”you may want to wonder why not.”
Each screening member received a rating sheet, which is used for members to compile their top 10 ranking list of who they would like to see continue in the process; the top 10 rankings were due on April 30 at 8 p.m.
Herb recommended that each search committee member create a top 10 list from the candidates.
Herb ended open session by having each committee member sign a non-disclosure agreement to bind them to confidentiality before the executive session. The executive session began at 7:36 p.m. and ended at 7:50 p.m., when the meeting was adjourned.