Superintendent Search Moves Forward

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The Shaker Heights School Board held a special meeting regarding the superintendent search Nov. 19.

Last week, the board chose the search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates to conduct the search for a new superintendent. Current Superintendent Mark Freeman will retire at the end of this school year.

Dr. Marvin Edwards, a senior associate at Hazard, Young, and Associates, was present at the Nov. 19 meeting and explained a summary of the search process and timeline for choosing a superintendent. The School Board announced Nov. 12 that HYA was going to assist them in the search, which Edwards estimates 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 and Edwards cited its “customer friendly” process.

The first step in the process was a planning session the school board completed Nov. 19 while in executive session. HYA will then schedule focus group meetings, which Edwards anticipates will be held Dec. 13 and 14. These meetings with HYA associates will be with leaders in the community, both inside the school district and outside. HYA will also hold a town hall meeting with the public on one of those two days.

About two or three weeks after the focus group meetings, HYA will present a report publicly to the board with the leadership profile that fits the district. The leadership profile, containing information on what characteristics the next superintendent should have, is determined by input from the focus group meetings and also an online survey that will be available to everyone in Shaker.

HYA will advertise the superintendent vacancy on their Website, in the Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, in Education Week and the American Association of School Administrators.

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 down to three finalists. They will be announced to the public and eventually spend a day in Shaker. The day will include appearing at a public event, meeting with leaders in the district, having dinner with the board and being interviewed by the board for a second and final time. Edwards said he would like one finalist to visit each day for three days in a row.

On the third day, after the board interviews the third finalist, the board will chose one “preferred candidate.” But the candidate is not hired at that point.

After HYA runs a criminal background check on the candidate, they will organize a trip to the candidate’s current workplace for board members to talk to colleagues to get a sense of their reputation.

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

Edwards said 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 school board discussed compensation for HYA in executive session at the Nov. 19 meeting.

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