The first significant discussion between the Clark County School Board of Trustees and the search firm spearheading the hunt for a new superintendent had barely started Wednesday when a potentially game-changing suggestion emerged.
Trustee Carolyn Edwards recommended the board consider creating a structure with two top leaders — one overseeing education and another focused on the district’s finances — both of whom would report to the school board. The idea, however, received a lukewarm reaction from the recruitment firm and fellow board members.
“I actually think we might get a better result and we might find better savings,” she said during the board work session.
Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky’s approaching retirement, which he announced last year, has triggered public discourse about what kind of new leader the nation’s fifth-largest school district needs as it carries out an ambitious reorganization and deals with financial problems.
Given the district’s current set of challenges, some have called for a candidate who either hails from the business world or who has a unique blend of educational and financial knowledge. Edwards’ suggestion would perhaps assuage concerns from both camps — those who want a business-minded executive and others who want an educator — but it didn’t earn a gush of praise from fellow board members.
Several trustees said the new superintendent should be someone who surrounds himself or herself with key employees who can make up for any professional deficits, such as a weaker business background. They feared a two-person leadership team could lead to conflicts.
“The buck has to stop with one person,” Trustee Linda Young said.
The head of the Iowa-based search firm — Ray and Associates — also expressed unease about splitting power among two people.
“That would be hard to recruit people,” said Gary Ray, who’s chairman of the firm. “Any organization has to have someone that’s responsible for running the organization.”
The conversation was just the first of many that will occur in the coming weeks and months as the trustees solicit public input, craft a candidate profile and then start vetting people for the critical job. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect and when as the search progresses:
When will a new superintendent be chosen?
If all goes as planned, the trustees hope to name a new superintendent by mid-April. That likely would enable some transition time before Skorkowsky retires in June.
How can community members participate and offer their thoughts?
The search firm plans to accept feedback via an online survey that will be open from Friday through Jan. 29. The survey results will be used to help shape the candidate profile as well as recruit qualified people, Ray said.
Additionally, the district plans to host a series of public meetings from Jan. 23 through Jan. 27 to solicit input. Trustees are considering hosting the public meetings at the following schools: Northwest Career and Technical Academy, Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Veterans Tribute Career and Technical Academy, Silverado High School, Valley High School and Clark High School.
The meeting times will vary to offer opportunities for people of all work schedules. Exact times and dates have not been confirmed, though.
When will the job description and candidate profile be finalized?
After the public input meetings and online survey wrap up, trustees will meet Feb. 8 to discuss the job description and candidate profile based on all the feedback. Afterward, the search firm will send out the promotional flyer and online application instructions.
The trustees expect to interview the top candidates the week of April 9th, with a second round of interviews the following week if necessary.
How much is the district spending on advertising for the job posting?
The search firm estimates that advertising the job opening will cost roughly $5,280. The job description and application details will be posted on a variety of online job boards, including ones operated by AASA (The School Superintendents Association), Education Week, National Alliance of Black School Educators and Career Builder, among others.
The job listing also will be available on the search firm’s website.
How much will the new superintendent be paid?
Trustees briefly broached this topic Wednesday, but a full discussion will take place at a later meeting. But Gary Ray, who heads the search firm, said a competitive salary for a district of this size and scope would need to be in the $300,000 range.