Rochester Community Schools Board Vice-President Beth Talbert reported Monday night on behalf of the committee, made up of Talbert, Lisa Nowak and Pat Piskulich, in charge of the search for a new superintendent. Talbert laid out changes in the search process and introduced a schedule for finding a new leader for the district.
The schedule and criteria will be voted on at the next board meeting on Oct. 22. Community feedback on the search criteria will also be welcome at that meeting.
The planned schedule
The schedule, which originally had selected candidates being taken to the board on Dec. 5, has been moved back according to Talbert because pushing for a December decision date would "muddy the waters and move us quicker than we want to. We want to take our time and do this right."
However, Talbert expressed that too long of a search might limit people from applying since that information is public knowledge in Michigan.
The ad for the position has already been placed and applications are being received.
The revised schedule, which was described as a planning document and not binding, is as follows:
- Dec. 12 - School Exec Connect to present applications with their recommendations. The board will choose a slate of candidates at this closed meeting.
- Dec. 17 - Up to six semi-finalists to be selected. This will be an open meeting. *This is changed from an earlier posting that stated it was a closed meeting.
- Jan. 9 and 10 - Semi-finalists will be interviewed in a public format. "At this point candidates moving forward would come spend more time in our district," Talbert said.
- Jan. 22 and 23 - Finalists, most likely two, will be interviewed in a public format.
- Jan. 24 - The new superintendent will be announced in a special board meeting.
Changes in the search process
In addition to working on the timeline, Talbert and the committee reviewed the previous hiring process.
"There are a number of things we would look to do differently this time," Talbert said. She then outlined six key changes to the search process.
- Site visits: Tentatively scheduled for the week of Jan. 14, board members will visit finalists in their current districts.
- One-day wait: The new schedule includes built-in time for the board to process feedback from the community before making the final hiring decision. Previously the selection took place immediately after the last candidate interview.
- Increase reference checks: The number of references checked will more than double. Each board member will do two reference checks from the candidate's list for a total of 14, plus, as in previous searches, do off-the-list checks too.
- Community meet-and-greet: Talbert said they had a lot of feedback from the community letting the board know they missed a more informal opportunity to know the candidates in the last search. A meet-and-greet reception will be held during this search.
- Writing sample: The writing sample submitted by candidates will be changing.
- Student involvement: The board is trying to find ways to incorporate more student involvement in the process.
The new superintendent will replace Fred Clarke, who resigned after 14 months on the job. School Exec Connect, which helped find Clarke in 2011, agreed to help board members with a new search free of charge. The district will be responsible for expense and advertising costs but the search firm will not charge its normal $19,500 base fee.
Dave Peterson from School Exec Connect attended Monday's meeting to answer any questions for the board; he was not called upon.
The next action steps outlined by Talbert are to approve the schedule and criteria at the board's Oct. 22 meeting.