Help wanted: Superintendents

At least a handful of school districts are on the hunt for a new superintendent, and board members are finding it’s not an easy job to fill. It takes time, money, community involvement and an educated and experienced applicant.

The Idaho School Boards Association recommends candidates meet the following requirements:

  • A candidate should be licensed or eligible for licensure as superintendent in Idaho.
  • A master’s degree is required. A doctorate and/or experience as superintendent or assistant superintendent is preferred.
  • A minimum 10 years’ experience in education, including central office or administrative experience.
  • Successful experience in leadership roles.

The hiring responsibility falls on the shoulders of elected, volunteer school board members. Most are asking for help from the community, by hosting public forums and assembling search and review committees. One board is paying an outside agency to organize search efforts, while another is doing much of the work itself.

Here is the latest from five districts:

Blaine County School District

One of Idaho’s wealthiest districts hired a consulting agency to set out on a nationwide search.

Board members also are asking community members to complete an online survey and attend open forums, hosted by the agency, to identify the most important characteristics for a new superintendent. Twenty-five forums were held this week —13 with external stakeholders and 12 with internal stakeholders. The district also has a web page devoted to updates about the search.

“This is a new process for Blaine County,” said Heather Crocker, director of communications. “We have a relatively new board and they are working very hard right now to conduct a superintendent search that involves a broad spectrum of the community.”

Lonnie Barber stepped down abruptly in September. He was Idaho’s highest paid superintendent, making $158,575 in 2011-12, according to State Department of Education.

Garden Valley School District

Board members decided to do much of the work themselves and are individually reviewing 15 applications.

A committee of two trustees, three teachers and two parents will help board members select three to five candidates for interviews, then select two or three finalists for meet-and-greets with interested community members and parents.

Superintendent Randy Schrader resigned last fall but agreed to finish the school year so the tiny 240-student district still has leadership.

“My involvement is limited but I’m here to help in any way I can,” he said. “The trustees want to appoint the new superintendent by the end of February but they will extend the process to find the right person.”

Gooding School District

Gooding is just getting started in its search; Superintendent Heather Williams resigned only last month. She’s staying on the job until July 1 but also told she is considering running for state superintendent in the May GOP primary.

Trustees assembled an 11-member committee — comprised of administrators, staff and community members — to screen and interview candidates.

Minidoka School District

The ISBA was hired to help Minidoka, which just last week closed its window for accepting applications.

“There is a small fee associated with our services if they choose to have us assist in the marketing of the opening,” said ISBA’s Misty Swanson. “We helped create the brochure and have distributed it to districts throughout Idaho and surrounding states.”

Superintendent Scott Rogers resigned in June.

Nampa School District

A 16-member committee just wrapped up reviewing 12 applications and has requested more information from some. The committee plans to give recommendations to the trustees by mid-February.

“After hearing reports that school districts were having difficulty attracting candidates, we were pleased to receive considerable interest in the position from across the Northwest,” said Nampa’s Communication Director Allison Westfall.

Former Nampa High School Principal Pete Koehler is serving as interim superintendent.

Jennifer Swindell

Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over two million pageviews a year. Jennifer has more than 35 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected].

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