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Moving like a well-oiled machine

January 15, 2012
by Chuck Hunt, Register Editor
It is moving along like a well-oiled machine.

There really is no other way to describe it.

The “it” I refer to is, of course, the search for a new Blue Earth Area Schools superintendent, which is currently under way.

And, the reason that it is moving along so well is because the BEA School Board made a really smart move.

OK, it might have been a no-brainer, but still, they did not hesitate to make it.

That “it” is, of course, the decision to hire two consultants from the South Central Services Cooperative to conduct the search.

‘Hiring’ is a relative term in this case. The cost to the district is virtually nothing, as compared to hiring a private consulting firm which could cost the district $10,000 or more.

The two former area superintendents, Ed Waltman and Harlow ‘Butch’ Hanson, have developed a plan that is very thorough and yet also will be accomplished very quickly.

The position is already posted and nine (probably 10 as of this writing) applications have already been received, with several more inquiries being made as well.

Waltman and Hanson have already completed several “site visits,” meaning they have traveled to some of the applicants’ current schools to scope them out (my words, not theirs) on their home turf.

And, last Tuesday the two consultants spent a full day – a really full day – conducting interviews of various individuals and groups in Blue Earth in order to prepare a profile of the BEA district and determine what sort of an individual would fit in well as the superintendent here.

They started at a 7:30 a.m. meeting with business leaders and ended at 9 p.m. with an interview of School Board chairman Frankie Bly.

In between they interviewed each board member individually, staff members, community people, even students. They went at it all day, talking and listening with hardly a break.

The one disappointment in the day was a poor turnout at the community meeting at 7 p.m. Only two people showed up.

It didn’t matter, Waltman says, as they were able to get input from many people throughout the long day.

The consultants next step is to develop a detailed, multi-page profile of the district and present it to the board on Jan. 24. You can read it too, as it will be posted on the school district website.

After the application period closes on Feb. 3, the two former superintendents will go over all the applications, screen them (which means do background checks, call their references, etc.) and narrow the list to six.

They will guide the board in developing questions for the interview process.

Those interviews will be conducted on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 24-26, by the way. And you are invited.

Waltman and Hanson say that not only is the public allowed to be in on the interview process, they actually encourage it.

One finalist candidate will be interviewed each of those three days. At 4 p.m. on each of those three days, the candidate of that day will address the public in the Performing Arts Center, telling why he or she would like to be the BEA superintendent and giving some background information on themselves.

Then, they will answer any questions from the public.

Waltman and Hanson hope for a good turnout those three days, even if it is at 4 p.m. during a work day. The reason they have it at that time is to allow school staff to attend before heading home for the day. The two consultants say it is an excellent chance for the public to ask any questions they wish.

Later that evening the board will conduct the actual formal interview, which also is open to the public, but at which the public is not allowed to participate. After that interview, the public can again visit with the candidate if they so desire.

After the third candidate is interviewed, the board is going to make its decision that very same night. No matter how long that process might take.

Again, that meeting is, by law, open to the public.

Some people might be a little surprised that this entire process is so open to public scrutiny. But that is the law, and the public’s right.

It is good to see the BEA board and the two consultants not only are following the law, but embracing it and taking it to even higher levels.

The residents of the Blue Earth Area School District will be able to see exactly how the new superintendent is selected.

And, that is just how it should be.
 
 

 

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