School board will hear from search firms

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— Representatives from at least two national search firms will present proposals to the Steamboat Springs School District Board of Education tonight.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Ray & Associates, Inc. and Glenview, Ill.-based Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, Ltd. both specialize in school executive leadership searches.

The board agreed last week to hire a search firm to find a superintendent to replace Cyndy Simms, who announced her resignation April 4 upon learning she was approved to take over the superintendent post of the Mercer Island, Wash., School District.

Simms was contacted for the Mercer Island position by Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, the firm hired by the Mercer Island district to find a superintendent.

Search firms aggressively search out job candidates based on criteria established by the school board or district. The method often ensures that a district is getting top-quality candidates appropriate for the specific position, board President Paul Fisher said at last week's board study session.

The board weighed the pros and cons between its two options: posting the open position itself or hiring a search firm.

While posting the position is significantly cheaper than using a search firm, the result is an excessive amount of work for board members and questions as to the quality of the applicants, Fisher said.

The search firm performs most of the legwork, and top-notch candidates from around the country are considered based on search criteria.

The search firm actively seeks out well-qualified candidates, even if they are currently employed, as was the case with Simms, Fisher said.

The board estimated the cost of hiring a search firm will be in the neighborhood of $20,000, including expenses.

Once hired, the search firm would likely meet with district officials to determine criteria. Once criteria are established, the firm will come up with a field of candidates, slowly eliminating ones it doesn't believe fit the criteria.

Eventually, a small group of finalists are presented to the board, and face-to-face interviews may be conducted. The board will vote on the candidate it feels best suited to fill the position.

Steamboat Springs Education Association President Mike Smith expressed concern last week that district stakeholders should be involved in the hiring process.

The board agreed that involvement from stakeholders such as a District Accountability Committee representative, a principal, an SSEA representative and possibly others will be appropriate for the hiring process, though a final vote on a candidate will include only school board members.

Not on tonight's agenda is board action on three proposed board policies dealing with community groups in district schools, the Equal Access Act and distribution and posting of materials on school grounds.

The action was tabled because only three board members will be present tonight.


-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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