School Board considers consultants

Members discuss bids from superintendent headhunting firms

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— The Steamboat Springs School Board received five bids Monday night from consulting firms looking to aid in the search for a new superintendent.

The board voted 4-1 on Nov. 26 to begin the consulting search - a decision that came almost four months after the previous School Board bought out the contract of former Superintendent Donna Howell. Sandra Smyser was hired as interim superintendent two months ago.

Board member Denise Connelly, the board's lone dissenting vote, previously said she is concerned that qualified candidates may be overlooked because search firms typically require a fee for candidates to be evaluated.

The board tasked Anne Muhme, the school district's assistant to the superintendent, wth conducting the consulting firm search. Muhme said Monday that all five firms assured her that all applicants are welcome and that there are no fees paid to the consultants by the applicants.

The five bids ranged from $7,000 to $24,500, plus expenses. Muhme said expenses likely would total an additional $2,000.

"They all follow pretty much the same procedure in their search," Muhme said. "And each group has had some sort of representation in the state of Colorado."

The five firms to submit bids included: Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates of Glenview, Ill.; McPherson & Jacobson of Omaha, Neb.; Ray and Associates of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Educational Leadership Search Associates of Colorado Springs; and the Colorado Association of School Boards.

The board previously hired Ray and Associates to conduct the search for former Superintendent Donna Howell in 2003.

"We were very happy with them the last time," Muhme said. The firm charged the district $14,000 for the Howell search; its new bid is $16,000, plus expenses.

Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates submitted the highest bid, which was $18,500 to $24,500. McPherson & Jacobson's bid was from $7,000 to $9,000. Education Leadership Search Associates submitted a $17,000 to $23,000 bid, and the Colorado Association of School Boards submitted a bid of $8,000.

Muhme said each firm wants to visit the School Board to give a 30-minute presentation, followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer session. The School Board moved to narrow the list to three search firms, which will be presented at the board's Dec. 17 meeting.

"Some of them have references from similar school districts to ours, and we need to look at their referrals and recommendations," School Board member Lisa Brown said.

- To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmccollum@steamboatpilot.com

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