BOE Seeks Public’s Views About New Superintendent

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The Shaker Heights Board of Education invited students and members of the community to share their opinions on the subject of the district’s next superintendent by completing an online survey and attending two public meetings in December.

The first meeting, in which the board hopes to gain public input on “the desired characteristics and skills you would like to see in the next superintendent,” will take place Dec. 13, from 7- 8 p.m. in the high school’s upper cafeteria. The second will be Dec. 15 from 9-10 a.m. at the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Community Building.

The survey is available until Dec. 21 at the district website, shaker.org.

Among other things, it asks the participant to choose the eight “most important statements to you as you consider the needs of the District and the ‘Desired Characteristics’ of its next leader,” from a list of 29 attributes.

After being superintendent of the district for 24 years, Mark Freeman announced Sept. 4 that he would retire at the end of the school year. The board held a special meeting regarding the superintendent search Nov. 19 and announced it had chosen the search firm of Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates on Nov. 12 to help it fill the position.

At the meeting, Dr. Marvin Edwards, a senior HYA associate, presented a timeline for the search process. He estimated the search will take about four to four and a half months.

HYA has been in existence for more than 25 years and has conducted searches for administrators in many districts similar to Shaker. The firm, based in Chicago, has conducted more than 900 academic searches across the country.

About two or three weeks after the December public meetings and the survey administration, HYA will present a report publicly to the board with the leadership profile that fits the district.

Six to 10 weeks later, HYA will give the board a slate of five “desired candidates.” Edwards recommends that this list not be released to the public, as it can cause a candidate to drop out. Edwards said, at an early stage in the search process, candidates might not want their current employer to know they are looking at a different job. He said early disclosure “may lose good people,” and that “applicants are interested at what point they will be exposed.” The board will interview the five candidates.

After the interviews, the board will reduce the list of five candidates to three finalists. They will be announced to the public and spend the day in Shaker appearing at public events. The board will have dinner with each candidate separately and also interview them for a second and final time.

On the third day, after the board interviews the third finalist, the board will choose one “preferred candidate.”

After HYA runs a criminal background checks on the candidates, HYA will organize trips to the candidates’ current workplaces to talk to colleagues to get a sense of their reputations. Board members may go on these trips.

If after all of this the board would still like to hire the preferred candidate, HYA will assist the board in contract negotiations.

The goal is to finalize a contract within one to two weeks of the final interview. According to Edwards, the ideal date by which to have a superintendent in place is July 1. This, he said, gives a “good overlap” for a transition period between Freeman and the newly hired superintendent.

The board discussed compensation for HYA in executive session at the Nov. 19 meeting.

A version of this article appeared in print on 13 December 2012, on page 3 of the Shakerite.

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