Board finalizes dates for Supt. interviews

The New Prague Area School Board approved the timeline and final process for selecting and interviewing candidates for the new district superintendent at its Monday, Feb. 25, meeting.

Consultants Butch Hansen and Dale Brandsoy from the South Central Services Cooperative presented a final timeline to the board.

Applications for the position close on Friday, March 1, and Hanson and Brandsoy

- both retired superintendents

- will go through the applications and recommend six semifinal candidates for the board to interview. Next week a subcommittee of three board members will meet with the consultants, review the recommended semifinalists and look at other applicants and recommend any changes.

The board will approve the list of semifinalists at their March 11 meeting, and interviews for those applicants will be held March 19 and 20 at the Central Education Campus.

From there, the board will select up to three finalists and bring those candidates back for one day each, on March 25, 26 and 27. The candidates will tour the school facilities, take part in a public forum and have a final interview with board members. After the third candidate interview, board members will meet that evening and choose a final candidate.

After that candidate is chosen, the board will have a subcommittee conduct a site visit in that candidate's current school district and begin negotiating a contract with that candidate. The plan is to have a contract approved with the new superintendent by April 8.

Questions the process Board member Don Dvorak had some misgivings about the process of selecting candidates. He felt that the entire board should be involved in the process, and not just a subcommittee. He said he had some philosophical differences with two members of the subcommittee.

"We've gone through several selections lately, and there have been some decisions made that I haven't agreed with,” Dvorak said. “The previous selections have had too much politics involved and had disastrous results."

Board chair Tammy Pexa said she had gotten some calls from residents' concerned that the board wasn't going to go through all of the applications, but instead rely on the consultants recommendations.

"Some are saying this is the most important decision we will be making, and everyone should be involved."

Hanson said it was up to the board how to proceed, and they could have a special meeting where the board would go through all of the applications and choose their semifinalists. "My concern there, is that while we are doing the screening, we are able to go ahead and get commitments from candidates ahead of time. If the board does it, it makes it more difficult."

Board member Jeanne Kubes said she was concerned it would set the timeline back and make it difficult to get the best candidate in what is a tight market forsuperintendents.

Hanson said they should still be able to stick with the same timeline. He added that to date, there were 18 completed applications for the position.

After more discussion, the board chose to stay with the process and timeline that was presented on a 5-1 vote, with Dvorak voting no. Board member Jerry Walerius was absent from the meeting.

Superintendent profile Earlier, the board had gone through a Superintendent Profile that had been compiled by Hanson and Brandsoy following discussions with board members, administrators, staff members and residents on February 12. They presented a list of attributes the new superintendent should possess. These included:

• Has excellent written and oral communications skills.

• Is an experienced administrator with proven record as an educational leader.

• Honest, ethical and leads with transparency.

• Thinks and plans strategically, with demonstrated ability to lead the district utilizing a strategic plan.

• Has a good working knowledge and understanding of school finance and the budgeting process.

• Experienced in curriculum and instructional leadership with a focus on student achievement.

• Human resources management and working experience with staff evaluation systems.

• Collaborative leadership style, but with the confidence to make decisions when appropriate.

• Is visible in the schools and involved with the communities.

• Strong interpersonal skills with the ability to inspire and lead staff.

• Understanding the importance of utilizing technology in education.

The consultants also compiled a list of what the different groups perceived as strengths of the district, challenges facing the district and what needs to be done.

"This document will be valuable not only in the superintendent search process, but also as a blueprint for your new superintendent to follow in the first year," Hanson said.

The board approved the document on a 6-0 vote.