December 20, 2014

Board of education to be tasked with finding new district leadership

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com
USD 231 school board members will be tasked with hiring a new superintendent, but to date, they haven’t talked about conducting a search for a new leader during a school board meeting.
Four of the seven board members voted to ouster former superintendent Bill Gilhaus, Christy Ziegler, executive director of educational services, and Lana Gerber, executive director of human resources and administrative services, during a special meeting on Feb. 27. During the same meeting, they named Pam Stranathan as interim-superintendent.
During a March 10 meeting, the board assigned the duties of Ziegler and Gerber to other administrators, but members have yet to discuss a search for a new superintendent. That may happen as soon as the next board meeting, April 14. The agenda for that meeting has not yet been set.
Carol Pitts, assistant executive director of communications and marketing for the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB), said there is no set process for hiring a new superintendent.
“It’s a board of education decision,” Pitts said.
Many school districts opt to utilize a search firm to find and narrow candidates, and Pitts said KASB is the most commonly used search firm in Kansas. The association conducted the superintendent search that ended with Gilhaus’ hire at USD 231 in 2003. The district, at this point, has not contracted KASB for a superintendent search.
Pitts said KASB has outlined a process for superintendent searches, however the process is generally tailored to meet the needs of the individual district.
“(The process) is totally up to the district and its board of education,” Pitts said. “We customize the search for the district.”
There is no preferred timeline. Some districts opt to do a survey of staff, patrons and board members and then draft a list of expectations for the new hire. Others, may hire internal candidates.
The Spring Hill School District, for example, recently hired Wayne Burke to replace Bart Goering. Goering will retire at the end of the 2015 school year. The district announced its search plans in October 2013 as part of a district long-term leadership plan.
The district partnered with KASB in its search. Starting in November 2013, KASB facilitated a series of meetings with USD 230 patrons, parents, and staff groups to make recommendations for traits in a new leader.
From those meetings, KASB and board members worked together to develop a list of desired qualities in a new superintendent.
At a Feb. 10 board meeting, Spring Hill board members unanimously selected Burke, the current assistant superintendent, for the job. Burke will takeover the district’s top leadership role when Goering retires on June 30, 2015.

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