How do districts choose a superintendent?

Posted at 7:00 AM, Feb 21, 2016

ALEXANDRIA, Ky. -- Campbell County Schools last week formed a screening committee that may play a role in determining the district’s next superintendent.

After posting the position, forming the committee is the next state-mandated step toward finding a new leader for the district. Per Kentucky Revised Statute 160.352, the six-member committee will include two teachers, one board of education member, one principal, one parent and one classified employee.

The committee will be responsible for reviewing all applications and recommending candidates for school board members to consider.

“To me, the purpose and significance of it is that this committee … will have the ability to review all of the applicants,” said Diana Heidelberg, human resources supervisor for the Campbell County School District.

The district has been without a superintendent since Nov. 1, when former superintendent Glen Miller retired after being charged with domestic violence against his wife. Associate Superintendent Shelli Wilson has taken on his duties until a new superintendent is hired.

In their search for an eligible candidate, school board members expect to stick to a process common among Kentucky school districts.

“It’s pretty much prescribed by law, the process that we go by,” said Janis Winbigler, Campbell County school board chairperson.

While the process is similar from one district to the next, individual school boards do have the option to use an outside consultant to assist with the search. Campbell County board members elected not to use a consultant.

Once screening committee members narrow down the applicant pool, they will make their recommendations to the board of education.

After committee members make their recommendations, school board members will begin in-person interviews with candidates. While board members may choose to move forward based on the committee’s input, they are not bound to the recommendations and can consider other applicants.

When Newport Independent school board members went through the process in 2012, they selected Superintendent Kelly Middleton from a pool of five candidates recommended by their screening committee. Despite the committee members’ varying backgrounds, their unity helped school board members trust their recommendations.

“We found that when it’s all said and done, they all wanted the same thing,” said Ramona Malone, chairperson for the Newport Independent school board.

Whether or not they stick to the recommended candidates, school board members are “charged with knowing the district” and must consider its unique needs, she said.

“You have to look at your district as your district, and it has to be personal,” she said.

During the final part of the superintendent search process, school boards generally go through at least two rounds of interviews before selecting a candidate.

While Campbell County school board members do not have any specific precautions planned beyond the state-mandated process, they’re focused on finding a good fit for the district, Winbigler said.

“We’re looking for someone that can be a good representative for our district,” she said.

In addition to assessing the candidates’ ethics and professionalism, board members will look for someone who will fulfill the district’s four focus points: promoting academic achievement, promoting school and community relations, enhancing academic and athletic facilities, and promoting new technologies.

“I do certainly trust them (board members) to make a good, sound decision,” Heidelberg said.

The new superintendent’s contract is expected to start July 1, but board members hope to make a selection by early May to give the individual time to transition into the role, Winbigler said.