School board kick-starts superintendent hiring process

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The Rushford-Peterson school board held a special meeting Monday, Nov. 5. The lone agenda item was a discussion of the process for hiring a replacement for retiring Superintendent Chuck Ehler. Ehler’s tenure, which has spanned 11 years, ends at the close of this school year.

The board examined a lengthy series of notes assembled by Clerk Bonnie Prinsen, who had been in contact with Sandy Gundlach, of the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA) in late October. Gundlach made several recommendations about guidelines for the R-P board to follow as they advertise the position, conduct a candidate search, and interview potential hires. Among those guidelines were:

• The MSBA advises that the entire school board (not a designated selection committee), which is ultimately (and legally) responsible for the hire, be involved in the process.

• The board should designate one person to coordinate receiving applications and preparing them to be viewed by the board. Supt. Ehler recommended that Laura Hahn be assigned this position, and the board agreed.

• Gundlach advised that board members must practice discretion as they examine applications, consider candidates and discuss the hiring process at public meetings.

• Before interviewing candidates, the board should develop a one-page survey that board members, teachers, and district staff would take. The survey would help to identify the top 6-7 characteristics the district would seek in a new superintendent.

The board spent much of the meeting discussing a timeline for the hiring process. That timeline is:

• Nov. 26: Advertise the position. The district has developed a four-page, full-color brochure highlighting the desired qualifications and qualities for candidates, as well as a description of the R-P school district and communities. This brochure will be posted on three sites: EdPost, the MN Dept of Eduction, and MSBA.

• Jan. 11: Application deadline.

• Jan. 14-22: Review applicants and select 3-5 finalists.

• Jan. 30-Feb 7: Conduct interviews.

• Feb. 8-11: Site/community visits

• Feb. 13-15: Conduct second interviews if necessary.

• Feb. 19: Special board meeting to select finalist.   

• Feb. 25: Regular school board meeting. R-P board will announce their selection for the district’s new superintendent.

• July 1: New superintendent begins work.

The R-P board spent some time discussing how interviews would be conducted. It was agreed that board members would be responsible for asking questions of candidates, though those questions would be finalized after survey input from board members, teachers, office staff, and district employees.

The meeting was adjourned at 6:40 p.m. The R-P School Board will hold a special meeting Tues. Nov. 13 to canvas election results. The next regular meeting will be held Monday, Nov. 19 at 5:30 p.m.