Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
A special meeting to discuss the criteria and selection process for hiring an interim school superintendent was held by the Gardner-Edgerton School Board Jan. 18.
Jody Marshall, human resources director, presented the hiring process steps and required qualifications.
Mark Meyer, temporary acting administrative superintendent, was in attendance. Robin Stout, board member, was not in attendance.
Marshall said their search was for a superintendent contract running through June 30, 2022. “The clock is ticking, and they will need immersed right away,” he said.
Marshall said the discretion until a permanent superintendent was hired to hand off the baton was up to board members. “We could extend it to July or August,” he said. “The closing date for applications is January 28.”
Marshall said the application was posted on the USD 231 website and state and national websites. “It’s not an easy assignment,” he said.
Marshall said the interim superintendent will have to have district level certification from the Kansas Department of Education, five years minimum in a leadership position and the ability to lead committees and interact with the community.
Marshall said he had received a four page single spaced document from the subcommittee of criteria and qualities they had collected.
The subcommittee consists of Lana Sutton, board president, Tom Reddin, vice present, and Katie Williams, member.
Sutton said she had received countless emails from the community; Reddin said he had emailed every school principal and director for feedback; and Williams said she had received emails and texts from the community and reached out to social media including the Citizens for the Future of Gardner Facebook page.
Sutton, Reddin and Williams shared the feedback they had received on what the community and school officials were seeking in the interim superintendent.
Sutton said they believed it was important the person be accessible to parents and the community, have a uniting presence, be involved in all levels of the district especially Edgerton, too, and have previous teacher, administrative and superintendent experience.
“I did hear having a doctorate a few times,” she said. “And fixing the SPED department was huge.”
Reddin said he agreed with Sutton’s feedback and had also heard people wanted an effective communicator who builds relationships with city managers and supports staff.
Williams said she too had received a lot of the same feedback from the community.
“They want someone available and approachable to teachers who is willing to listen and collaborate,” she said. “Also a superintendent who is diverse and supportive of the LGBTQ community and mental health needs.”
Kristen Schultz, board member, said over 100 teachers had responded to the survey in two days.
“They want a super who is in the building and seen in the buildings,” she said. Schultz said they also want a superintendent receptive of teacher input.
“We’re the educators on the front line and like to help in guiding decisions they said,” she said.
Schultz said teachers also didn’t want to be micromanaged, have a superintendent who is receptive of feedback on board meeting conduct and recognizes the growth of the area.
Schultz said she wanted to know how the salary amount was decided and if it was the standard amount.
Marshall said the hiring amount for the interim would range from $75,000 to $100,000.
“It’s what they would be making annually plus sophisticated math,” he said. “We could create a bigger range as we might have to take more range to get someone here.”
Reddin said he wanted to know if the salary range was only for the five to six months the interim superintendent would be serving and not an annual salary.
Marshall said that was correct, and they would pay additional day rates if necessary.
The subcommittee will interview the qualified candidates, he said, but all board members will have an opportunity to speak with and meet the candidate finalists.
Marshall said references, KPERS qualifications, credentials and criminal backgrounds will be checked and a TB test and physical exam will be conducted.
The board will make a recommendation for hire with contract terms, the contract will be offered by the HR Department with Sutton and Reddin and then the formal approval will be given at a BOE meeting, he said.
Greg Chapman, board member, said he wanted to know if the district already has a KPERS penalty.
Marshall said the district does have a KPERS penalty, and they will subtract it annually from the salary. “We will follow past practice,” he said.
Marshall said the penalty only applies if a retiree is being hired and after the first $25,000.
Chapman said he wanted to know what a physical exam entailed.
Marshall said it is a basic minimal exam that they pay for along with the TB test.
Schultz said she wanted to know how many applicants they had received so far.
Marshall said there were two in the system and one more potential applicant. He said they would discuss any internal applicants in executive session.
Sutton said she was glad to hear there was interest in the position and was ok with the closing date for the applications.
Chapman said they are a unique school district being comprised by two cities into one giant community.
“It’s really amazing to see different groups of the community reaching out to be involved,” he said.
The board held a 25 minute executive session.
Sutton said they had received applications and would begin the formal interview process discussed in the regular meeting.
Chapman said he wanted to thank Meyers for everything he had done so far as temporary acting superintendent especially with communication, and he had received great feedback from the community.
“It’s been phenomenal,” he said. “I appreciate everything you’ve done so far.”