Candidate search to cost Cape schools thousands

Friday, September 24, 2004

The Cape Girardeau School Board will spend between $12,000 and $15,000 searching for a new superintendent in the next three months. Board members say the expense is necessary.

The board approved a contract with the Missouri School Boards Association this week for a comprehensive superintendent search that includes a needs assessment of the district, recruitment of candidates and evaluations of candidates.

"We need a job done and we don't know how to do it. We're talking about hiring someone who has been there and done that," board member Dr. Steve Trautwein said.

The contract with the association also includes training for board members in interview techniques, reference checking, and salary and benefits negotiations.

The cost of the search is 9 percent of the superintendent's first-year salary plus search expenses, which will be capped at $2,500. If the board decides to extend the search to other states, additional fees may be incurred.

Board vice president Sharon Mueller said there may be people in the community who resent the board spending that amount of money on the search after recent budget cuts that eliminated teaching positions and froze salaries.

"There's a moral issue. We just raised taxes and now we're spending this money," Mueller said. "I look at it as an investment. This is a multifaceted process, and we don't have the time or the expertise for it."

Chief financial officer Rob Huff said the search contract will be treated as a purchased service, and an amendment will be made to this year's budget to accommodate the cost. The money to pay for the search will likely come from the district's reserve fund balances.

The board plans to have a list of candidate finalists by the end of November and a superintendent hired by the end of December.

Board members voted unanimously in August not to rehire current superintendent Mark Bowles. Bowles' contract expires June 31, and the board has indicated that he will remain in that position until then.

The Missouri School Boards Association is a not-for-profit organization that performs between 25 and 30 superintendent searches annually as part of its services to member school districts.

Cape Girardeau has used the association in past superintendent searches, including the one that brought Bowles' predecessor, Dan Steska, to Cape Girardeau in 1999.

cclark@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

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