Search begins for new superintendent

By Xiomara Levsen, The JOURNAL

The Washington School Board held a special meeting Monday evening to discuss how to proceed with the search for a new superintendent after they accepted Jeff Dicks? resignation.

Board president Eric Turner said this would be one of the biggest things the board would do.

?This is something we?re going to spend a lot of time [on] over the next four-to six-weeks until we find our replacement,? Turner said. ?As Troy [Suchan] pointed out some of us have some experience with this, so I?m hopeful that will be positive in this process. It?s also good to have new perspective for those who haven?t been part of the process as well.?

Board member Troy Suchan said he liked having a subcommittee narrow down the candidates and having input from the community on the candidates.

?We go pretty deep when we?re searching and we?ve had a lot of candidates say, ?We can?t believe you found so-and- so to contact,?? Suchan said. ?It?s more than just contacting references.?

Board member Stephanie Ellingson said she liked having the superintendent candidates meet with stakeholders in the school district when they came to visit the district. This made the candidates answer the questions honestly rather than tailoring their answers.

?Do we have a timeline built yet or should we build a timeline?? board member Heidi Vittetoe asked.

?Yes, I think we need to build that timeline,? Turner replied.

Turner asked if they were to place an ad announcing they were looking for applications when should the deadline be.

Dicks looked at other districts who were in the process of searching for superintendents and said most application deadlines were around a month.

The board decided to have applications due April 6. A subcommittee will review the applicants and recommend the top five to the whole board for an interview. The first week of interviews will be held April 16 and 18. The second set of interviews will be held April 23 through April 26.

?And hopefully we?ll have a hire by May 1,? Turner said.

The board also discussed whether or not this will be advertised as a shared position with WACO.

?When we did this previously this was only with Washington,? Turner said. ?I?ve been in contact with their board president Tim Graber. He understands the situation. They would love to keep sharing. He understand that?s not a given and understands that we would maybe need to sort out that situation.?

If Washington and WACO don?t end up sharing a superintendent next year, Graber said he would like to revisit that arrangement in the future, Turner added. Graber also asked Turner keep him up to date on what the Washington School Board decides.

Turner gave them three choices for advertising for this position ? just as the Washington superintendent, a shared position between Washington and WACO or position is shared but dependent upon the candidate.

Suchan said he would prefer they don?t advertise the position as shared because they could lose a good candidate who doesn?t want to have a shared position.

?I understand the economics of sharing, but I was elected as a Washington School Board member not a WACO School Board member and I?m going to find the best one for us,? Suchan said.

Dicks said Washington is one of the largest districts to share a superintendent in the state, so they may not get many applicants to apply for this position.

?I just know this from both perspectives,? Dicks said. ?Your other shared positions have gone much better since you shared superintendent.?

The communication is better between the shared positions because everybody reports to the same person, except Keota, he said. The district shares superintendent, business manager and transportation manager with other districts, which is $300,000.

Suchan said he would like to have the advertisement say it?s flexible.

?I just go back to we?ve got to do what?s right for us first,? Suchan said, ?and I understand that?s a big economic impact, so that?s got to be factored in, obviously.?

The board decided to advertise the position as being flexible unanimously and also decided to list the wage as up to $195,000.