Missouri School Board Association to help Poplar Bluff with superintendent search

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Poplar Bluff School District signed a contract Thursday night hiring the Missouri School Board Association to assist with the district's superintendent search.

Board president Dr. Mike Price and board members Hardy Billington, Dr. Cynthia Brown, Dr. Matt Riffle, Steve Sells and Roger Strickland approved a motion in favor of the contract. Board member Gary Simmons was absent.

At a monthly meeting Nov. 15, Simmons and Brown were against a similar measure in a 4-2 vote. Price was absent at that meeting.

The board has extended its time frame for filling the position, which current Superintendent Ernie Lawson will vacate when he retires in June 2010.

A new application deadline of Dec. 7 was set. The district has 11 applicants for the position.

"I'm going to work very hard the next few weeks to get more candidates," said MSBA representative Jerry Waddle.

Board members will meet Dec. 14 to screen applicants. Interviews will then be set up, with a target hiring date of Jan. 14. A committee established of staff members and community members will be invited to both focus groups and candidate interviews, board members said.

Focus groups will be held Nov. 9 at Kay Porter Theater, with a meeting for district employees to start at 4:30 p.m. and a second for the public at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are open to all employees and all community members.

"We will want to get their input," Price said.

MSBA representative Jerry Waddle questioned board members about what traits they felt would be important for the next superintendent.

Candidates should have a minimum of three years Central Office experience, board members agreed.

It should also be someone who has a vision for the district and good leadership, people and financial skills, said Sells.

"The person needs to be outgoing and easy to get along with. Somebody who is going to reach out to people in the community," said Billington.

Price indicated he would favor someone who could continue to help the district improve academic performance.

"Our test scores have been improving, but I want somebody ... to keep improving what we have," Price said.

The new superintendent should be willing to think outside the box and be creative when trying to improve student achievement, added Riffle.

"It should be someone who is a strong educator and who has a strong sense of community," said Brown. "Someone who doesn't just want this for their resume, but has a genuine interest in the community."

The new hire should be a communicator who keeps staff, the community and the board informed, Strickland said.

MSBA charges a fee of 8 percent of the hired superintendent's first year's salary, plus additional expenses. Salary for the new hire will be commiserate with experience and education, but board members last night discussed a salary range of between $120,000 and $140,000. The fee will be paid from district funds, Price said. Sells had previously suggested raising the money through community donations.

"It might look improper to someone," Price said. "We need to separate the politics. We don't want it to look like there was undue influence."

MSBA will do a mass mailing of a flyer that includes the information about the district, position and community. An e-mail blast containing basic information about the district will also be sent. Both will go to all state districts. The organization will also advertise the position on web sites, check references, rate applicants, provide board members with interview training and conduct the focus groups.

Thursday night's meeting was called because board policy requires the district to seek bids for anything that will cost more than $2,500, Price said.

Prior to the vote for MSBA, Lawson presented quotes of approximately $6,400 and $14,500 from the Missouri Association of Rural Education and BWP Associates respectively to assist with the search.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: