Aggressive timeline set for superintendent search

New Prague School Board members have a busy couple of months ahead of them.

At a board workshop before the Monday, Jan. 28, board meeting, Butch Hanson and Dale Brandsoy went over aspects of the upcoming superintendent search the board will be undertaking as they seek to replace Larry Kauzlarich as the district’s leader.

The two retired superintendents will serve as consultants during the district’s search. And while some districts are paying $10,000 or more to a consulting firm, New Prague’s search will cost the district only expenses incurred during the search.

During their business meeting, the board approved an agreement with the South Central Service Cooperative, a consortium of school districts that includes New Prague. The cooperative offers the service free of charge to its members.

The search includes a number of components, including setting up a search calendar, a timeline, meeting with board members, school staff, parents, community members and students to create a profile for the new superintendent, recruiting candidates for the position, receiving and processing candidate applications, providing preliminary screening and recommendations of candidates to interview, assisting the district with the interviewing process, meeting with the board to facilitate the decision on a new superintendent and contract, and providing mentoring to the new superintendent for up to a year. Hansen told board members that the board can decide which of these components the district will utilize. He also presented a proposed timeline for the board that would include an application deadline of March 1, and selection and hiring of a new superintendent by April.

“The process you follow is important,” Hanson said. “The timing is also important.”

He said there are currently between 25 and 30 superintendent searches in process in Minnesota. “Last year at this time there were only about a dozen. You need an aggressive timeline to make sure you get a good candidate.”

He also emphasized the need for a consensus when hiring a superintendent. “You’re going to need a 7- 0 vote, or at least 6-1,” he said. “We've seen a number of superintendents turn down an offer when the board is split 4-3.”

The district has already posted the position, and all applications will be sent to the cooperative. Hanson and Brandsoy will go over the applications and recommend candidates that they feel match well with a candidate profile that the board will put together with public input. “That profile will also serve as a blueprint for the superintendent’s first year,” Hanson added.

There will be six candidates invited for interviews in early- to mid-March, then two or three finalists will be selected for interviews in late March.

Board members were told to check their personal schedules for any possible conflicts in dates so they could schedule dates for interviews. Finally, board members looked at a table showing compensation for superintendents at comparable school districts. The list ranged between $142,964 in Big Lake to $154,000 in Sartell-St. Stephen.