Janesville50.5°

Searching for a superintendent: Details still undecided

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
October 24, 2008
— Janesville School Board members agreed on some details of their search for a new superintendent, but key decisions were delayed at a meeting Thursday night.

The board will ask for search companies to submit proposals by Monday, Nov. 3, but the board will decide later whether to hire a search consultant.


Board President DuWayne Severson originally proposed that the board save money and conduct the search with the help of district staff, community members and Studer Group, a consulting firm that is spearheading a district quality-improvement program.


But board member Lori Stottler and several other board members said they wanted a search firm considered.


Stottler missed part of Thursdayís meeting because she was at a county board meeting. She is county clerk.


But Stottler drafted a memo to her fellow board members, saying that a search firm would handle numerous tasks, including developing a profile of a new superintendent, coordinating listening sessions, screenings, background checks, contract negotiations and coordinating site visits.


The board took no votes but seemed to agree on a timeline and on some of the processes leading up to the choosing of a new superintendent next March.


Superintendent Tom Evert is scheduled to retire June 30.


HIRING TIMELINE


-- A series of listening sessions, to be held at each of the three middle schools, will be scheduled between now and Friday, Nov. 14. The sessions will allow community members to say what qualities of a new superintendent are important to them.


Three possible formats are a public hearing, discussion groups and paper or Internet/e-mail response.


Board members also said they wanted to hear from certain groups, including parent organizations, the teachers union and Forward Janesville, a business association.


Qualities identified in the listening sessions would become part of a profile that would be publicized Nov. 17-21.


-- The position would be advertised nationally Dec. 1-Jan. 31. Applicants would be sent essay questions that would become part of their applications.


-- In the first week of February, a team that includes board members would screen the applications and decide who makes the first cut.


Several board members suggested that community members also be enlisted on the screening committee.


Many details of the search were left up in the air until the board has a chance to discuss matters with Quint Studer of Studer Group.


Studer is scheduled to be in Janesville next week. Studer has volunteered his people to help with certain aspects of the search.


-- Interviews of five to 10 candidates would occur Feb. 9-13. A second round of interviews would occur Feb. 16-20. Community members also might be a part of the interviews.


-- Finalists would be identified, and the board would visit the home communities of those finalists Feb. 23-March 13.


-- A new superintendent would be announced before the end of March.


Hiring outside the box

Might the next superintendent of the Janesville public schools be a business person? How about a retired Army general?


Several Janesville School Board members seemed interested in that idea Thursday.


The board was meeting to discuss the process for replacing Superintendent Tom Evert, who will retire eight months from now.


It was not clear, however, whether state law allows someone without an extensive school background to become a superintendent.


The law appears to require that a superintendent have completed a masterís degree in administration as well as a number of other education-related qualifications.


But board member Tim Cullen thought he saw an opening in the regulation that would allow a non-educator to be superintendent. He mentioned a school that trains people from other fields to be superintendents and wondered if a person could be hired on condition that he or she graduate from such a program.


Board members Bill Sodemann and DuWayne Severson also seemed interested in looking at alternative candidates.


Board member Debra Kolste said she didnít see what a CEO from another field would be able to bring to the superintendency.


Sodemann also raised the possibility of internal candidates and wondered if that might be a problem.


Severson replied to Sodemannís question, saying the board would address that question if it ever arose.



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