Friday, April 14, 2006

Searching Again

It looks like we are getting ready to go through one of those painful drills that happen occasionally. We will have to find a new school superintendent. Anyone who has been here for a while will remember the fun that previous searches and the results have been. Needless to say, mistakes were made.

The current school board and administration has made strides towards more openness and better communication. They also made a good, common sense decision to appoint an interim superintendent. I hope this wasn't the only advice the consultants gave.

A major problem with previous searches seems to have been an over reliance on "the pro's from Dover." It does make sense to use a search firm to advertise the position widely and screen for qualifications and other issues. Getting a good pool of candidates will take work. After the pool of candidates is chosen, the real work will begin. There are no shortcuts.

It is tempting to try and turn the selection into a numbers game. Take years of experience, different positions held, number of degrees, etc.. Weight each of these factors, put into a spreadsheet and select the candidate with the biggest number. Simple, elegant and a guaranteed way to fail.

The selection process is at its core a communications process. It needs to be a detailed and two way process. Those involved in the selection process are doing more than just gathering information. They need to know how well the candidates fit in with the goals and aspirations of the school district and the community as a whole. At the same time, they are communicating to the candidate what the district and community needs and expects. Community involvement and transparency are key parts of this whole process. When the new superintendent takes his jobs there should be no major questions or secrets left.

This will be a tough process. Transparency needs to be balanced against the need to keep certain details private to protect those candidates that don't get selected. There is also a limit on how much time and other resources can be devoted to this.

This will be a chance for the school board to show how far they have really progressed in the last few years.

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