And, the cost of searching for a new leader will be negligible.
Last Monday night the BEA board voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with South Central Services Cooperative (SCSC). The contract provides for assistance in the search for a new superintendent to replace Dale Brandsoy who will retire effective June 30.
Blue Earth Area will be working with retired Mankato superintendent Ed Waltman and retired Fairmont superintendent Harlow (Butch) Hanson.
Waltman was at the meeting to present their proposal, which included an aggressive timeline that would begin immediately.
“We feel it is important to begin now, in December, and work quickly,” Waltman told the board. “There are eight or nine other districts (in Minnesota) already looking for a superintendent, and more could announce openings soon.”
Waltman and Hanson’s timeline calls for the application time period to close Feb. 3.
From Feb 4 to Feb. 16, the two retired superintendents would screen all of the candidates, narrowing the pool to six.
“I expect that we will receive no more than 15 to 20 applications,” Waltman says. “The pool of potential candidates out there is just not that large.”
Also by Feb 16, the first round of interviews will be conducted. Those would be done by the board and a special community committee.
School Board members would select the three finalists, and those persons would each be re-interviewed – one each day for three days in a row, from Feb. 21 to Feb. 23. The board would decide who to offer a contract to immediately after the last interview.
Then, the final contract would be presented at the March 12 meeting.
“This is an aggressive timeline,” Waltman admitted. “But I understand you (the board) wanted this done quickly.”
Waltman and Hanson will assist the BEA district with every part of the recruitment process, from posting the advertising, to screening the candidates, to handling the interview process.
They will even help negotiate the contract.
The best news for the board was the charge for these services.
“Blue Earth Area School District is a member of the SCSC,” Waltman told the board. “Because you are a member, there is no charge for our services.”
Waltman says that even includes mileage for the two to come to Blue Earth.
“If we travel to other places to do site visits at schools where the candidates currently are employed, then we would charge mileage,” Waltman says. “Plus any costs such as printing a recruitment brochure, will be charged for.”
He says these extraneous costs will not exceed $500.
However, Waltman had one piece of financial news for the board that was not nearly so rosy.
In order to hire a new superintendent, the BEA board will have to up the salary from what they are currently paying.
Brandsoy’s current base salary is $107,000. Waltman says that is the lowest for a superintendent among the South Central Conference schools.
Other superintendents in the area are paid base salaries more in the $120,000 range.
With all of the benefits offered the top administrator, the total compensation package may be as high as $162,000, the consultant points out.
Waltman spent a half hour at the meeting presenting the contract proposal to the board. After the board accepted it, he spent another hour spelling out the entire process.
“We will interview each of you (board members) in order to get to know you better,” he says. “We will also develop a district profile.”
These projects will be done in January, the consultants say. A community committee will also be formed, composed of 10 to 12 people.
“We would like to have a teacher from each of the four buildings be on the committee,” Waltman says. “Also one administrator. Plus a community member from the towns and areas that compose the district.”
Then in February the interviews are scheduled to be held.
In the first round, both the board and community committee will interview all six candidates – but not together at the same time.
“The community members will fill out a questionnaire about each candidate,” Waltman says. “The board will score each candidate and will also use the questionnaires – you will pick the three finalists that same night, and it could take a while.”
On the day each of the three finalists are re-interviewed, they will each spend some time touring the school and visiting with administrators and staff during the day.
At 4 p.m. a meeting open to the public will be held, with the candidate telling of his or her background, education philosophy, etc.
After dinner with the board at 5 p.m., the candidate interview will follow at 6 p.m.
After the third one is interviewed, Waltman says he expects the board to select the finalist that very same night.
The consultant says he feels BEA is in a very good position to attract a well qualified candidate.
“If we don’t think they are both qualified and a match for you, we will not even bring them in here to be interviewed,” he says. “We won’t just fill the six slots, we will fill them with candidates that fit in here.”
Waltman says they usually try to get a mix of three current superintendents and three “emerging educators,” which are usually principals intending to become superintendents.
“With nine other districts looking, this might be an avenue for us,” he says.
Two of those districts are in the area, Waltman says. One is Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial, the other is Maple River.
“I need to disclose to you that we (SCSC and Waltman and Hanson) are also working with Lake Crystal as they search for a superintendent,” he explained. “We don’t see it as conflict for either school, in fact it could be advantageous.”
He says they will be able to work at finding just the right candidate for each school.
Waltham says the two former superintendents know many of the state’s administrators, which makes it easier for them.
“One thing we would never do is go ‘head hunting” at other South Central schools,” Waltham says. “We would never recruit a superintendent from a neighboring district to come here.”
Of course, if one of those superintendent applies on their own, that is a different story.
“I have every confidence we will find the right person for Blue Earth Area,” he says.