Archive for Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Lawrence school board delays decision on superintendent search firm

Lawrence USD 497 school board

Lawrence USD 497 school board

August 29, 2017


The three firms making a pitch Monday for the district’s superintendent search told the Lawrence school board their services came with a one-year guarantee.

After listening to presentations from Ray and Associates Inc., of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; School Exec Connect, of Highland Park, Ill.; and Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, of Schaumburg, Ill., the board agreed it received too much new information to make an immediate decision and opted to select a firm at its Sept. 11 meeting.

School board president Shannon Kimball said she and board vice president Jessica Beeson had checked out all three firms and found they had good reputations.

Representatives for all three firms told the board that if a candidate they identified for the job was fired or resigned in the first year of the new superintendent’s contract, the firm would conduct a search to find a replacement at no charge. David Benson, of School Exec Connect, said his firm had a much broader definition of success than a second year for the next superintendent.

“Success for us is completing the first contract and you offering a second contract,” he said.

Included in the presentations were base fees for the search of $22,000 for Ray and Associates; $23,000 for Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates; and $18,500 plus an expense charge not to exceed $2,650 for School Exec Connect. However, each firm also included a menu of other services that would add to the cost should the board choose to include them.

McPherson & Jacobson LLC was paid $20,486 for the search that led to the March 2016 promotion of Kyle Hayden from assistant superintendent of business and operations to superintendent. Hayden stepped down from that position in May to become the district’s chief operations officer.

The one-year guarantee was one of many features common to the presentations of all three firms. Each presentation included a promise to tailor the search to the board and community’s needs and to develop a profile used to recruit candidates. All three firms indicated the profile would be developed from board member interviews, an online survey posted on the district’s website and community input from stakeholder focus groups and a community forum.

The search firm representatives also agreed to present an initial list of about 10 to 12 candidates, which the board would narrow to three to five finalists. Two of the firms, Ray and Associates and School Exec Connect, said they would present videos of the first pool of candidates to aid the board in selecting finalists; Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates would arrange live teleconferences.

Representatives said their firms had extensive experience in performing searches for superintendents and connections that would help them identify and thoroughly vet candidates for the Lawrence position.

“We’re going to get to know them well,” said Ted Blaesing, of Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates. “You’ll find out if they have trouble stopping at stop signs.”

Of concern to the board was the November election that would elect new board members to replace board members Vanessa Sanburn and Marcel Harmon. All three firms indicated they could develop a search timeline that would schedule the community input and completion of a candidate profile and perhaps the development of the first list of candidates before the newly elected board members take their seats in January. The board would then narrow the list of candidates, conduct interviews and make the final selection.

The board’s goal is to offer a contract to its selected candidate in February 2018. The next superintendent will start in the Lawrence district July 1, 2018.

When speaking of tailoring the search for the board’s need, Benson said the search could be kept completely confidential, done entirely in the open or a blend that would keep the search confidential until the finalists were selected. The finalists would then be made public and meet the public, he said.

Kimball said the board used a blended process when Hayden was hired. The board will determine how open the process will be this time around.

“I think (the blended process) was one of the positives that came from that experience,” she said.

Contact Douglas County reporter Elvyn Jones
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David Holroyd 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Wasn;'t Jessica Beeson the one who traveled with Mr. Farmer....just asking?

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