School Board focuses search | SteamboatToday.com

School Board focuses search

List of superintendent consulting firms down to three

Mike McCollum

Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs School Board narrowed the pool of potential superintendent search firms from five to three Monday night after a lengthy debate about each of the consultants' resumes. — The Steamboat Springs School Board narrowed the pool of potential superintendent search firms from five to three Monday night after a lengthy debate about each of the consultants' resumes.

— The Steamboat Springs School Board narrowed the pool of potential superintendent search firms from five to three Monday night after a lengthy debate about each of the consultants’ resumes.

Board members previously tasked Anne Muhme, assistant to the superintendent of the Steamboat Springs School District, to contact references from each of the five search firms and develop a short summary of supporting and opposing reference comments.

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

The three consulting firm finalists include Ray & Associates of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; McPherson & Jacobson of Omaha, Neb.; and the Colorado Association of School Boards.

The School Board hired Ray & Associates in 2003 to conduct the search for former Superintendent Donna Howell, for $14,000. The firm’s new bid is $16,000, plus expenses.

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Among the positive comments submitted to Muhme by school districts who previously hired Ray & Associates are: “Very responsive to needs and requests by the Board of Education,” “tickled with the job they did,” and “very knowledgeable consultants.”

Negative comments included, “Needed more time to review the 18 short-listed candidates.”

McPherson & Jacobson, who are currently conducting the East Grand School District’s superintendent search, submitted a bid of $7,000 to $9,000, plus expenses.

Other districts who have worked with the search firm praised McPherson & Jacobson’s responsiveness, thorough background information and “good knowledge of regional and cultural values.”

Negative comments included, “at times, tried to tell us what we needed to do : didn’t listen to us,” and “didn’t catch on that consultants (are) not part of the interview process.”

School Board member John DeVincentis argued that the School Board should examine whether spending up to $20,000 is worthwhile when the school district has a strong relationship with the Colorado Association of School Boards, whose fee of $8,000, plus expenses, is a more inexpensive option.

“I kind of see it like sending your kids to private schools and spending $10,000 or so more a year for their education,” he said. “Are you getting $10,000 worth of extra education? : If we don’t get exactly what we want from (search firms), is it worth an extra $9,000, $10,000 or whatever?”

Positive comments for the search firm included, “CASB is as good as any of the other firms,” “considerably cheaper than other national firms,” “knowledgeable about the state of Colorado.”

School districts commented that CASB could have had a larger candidate pool and “we didn’t set clear expectations with CASB at the onset : experienced some frustration.”