Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Superintendent Selection Process Redux

After my posting yesterday, I received an e-mail from a member of the School Board stating,

Since the seating of the new board, we had 2 public meetings where we talked about the search process. Because no one from the media attended the first, we made sure to do the attached presentation at our meeting last Monday to try to shed light on the process.

The attached PowerPoint presentation contained this outline of the search process starting in May of 2008.

• May 2008
– Search committee appointed
– School board conducted public forums, sent out public surveys to determine attributes sought in next superintendent
• June 2008
– School board members presented public forum findings to search committee
– School board hired search firm through RFP process
• August/September 2008
– Search firm conducted interviews with individual school board and search firm members
– Search firm developed leadership profile and “Characteristics Desired in the Superintendent of Schools” based on 200 community, 9 school board, and 14 search committee responses
– National posting of vacancy
– School Board approved the job description
• September – December 2008
– Search firm continued to receive applicants and to actively recruit promising candidates.
• December 2008
– Search committee met with each new school board member and Mayor Jones to review the status of the process
– Search firm presented resumes of 20 candidates to search committee
– Search committee narrowed candidates to 12
– Search firm interviewed 12 and narrowed to 5
• January 2009
– Search committee interviewed 5 candidates and narrowed to 3 preferred
– Search committee presented 3 candidates to school board and provided opportunity for board to review resumes of all 5 final candidates.
– Board elected to interview the previously identified 3 candidates

The presentation also contained explanations of the rolls of the board, search committee and outside search firm in the selection process.

This maven lauds the School Board for publicizing the stages of the search process. I retract my statement that the process was “as far removed from government in the sunshine as one can imagine.” And, hopefully, I was wrong in thinking that the election had not brought change.

I must say, however, that making this presentation only days before the board revealed its choice for our new superintendent does not make up for the six months that the citizens of Richmond were kept in the dark. Had the board and its search committee been open throughout the process it is unlikely that some of my neighbors would have been suspicious of the validity of the whole search. I certainly hope that in the future the board will continue to choose open rather than closed processes (even if the laws of the Commonwealth provide an excuse to meet in closed sessions).

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