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109 Superintendent Profile, Process Emerges

Board of Education hears report from consultants and makes plans to interview candidates.

The question of who will be the Deerfield Public Schools District 109’s new superintendent remains in doubt, but some information is beginning to emerge about how many candidates remain and what qualities the Board of Education is looking for as a new leader.

At Monday’s Board meeting, representatives of the search firm retained by the District revealed that either five or six candidates will be brought before the Board next month with the eventual selection to be made public in January.

Earlier: District 109 Superintendent Search Moves Ahead

The board spent a portion of the meeting going over the questions that will be asked of the candidates in the first set of interviews.

The first round will have specific topics to be addressed for all of the candidates touching on a variety of issues ranging from why they are interested in coming to Deerfield, leadership management, their vision for Deerfield, discussing a controversial decision they have dealt with, curriculum development, teacher evaluation, special education, parent interaction and staff communication as well as experience dealing with teachers unions.

Board Member Deborah Muller believed the candidates should be asked about what he or she will do in their first 100 days in office. “That says a lot about their style, how they go about establishing relationships and setting priorities,” she said.

“We actually have to get into that because the contract we draw has to have goals,” concurred Board President Ellen London. “It is something we have to look at.”

Questions Should Be Precise

Hank Gmitro, the head of the search firm, stressed to members they ask questions that are not abstract and can provide examples of how a candidate has operated in the past.

“It’s usually helpful and illustrative to make sure the person is sharing examples of real work they have done and not just what they philosophically believe,” Gmitro said.

The task ahead is a tall order not lost on some of the Board members. “Are we kidding ourselves there?” Muller asked. “That’s a lot of questions to get through.” But Gmitro noted the process with the script he has prepared has been effective in the past.

Once the first round is completed, there will be three remaining candidates and the second set of interviews will not be as formal.

“You do want to have a comparable set of information about each one of the candidates as you try and narrow it down,” Gmitro said. “The second interview is unscripted and is designed to be a conversation between you and the candidate and for you to probe more deeply into issues that you want to learn more about.”

Preceding the second round with the board, the candidates will meet a “community committee” composed of people who are not directly connected with the schools, but will work with the superintendent on issues facing the area.

Decision Due in January

The board is scheduled to make public its decision at the January board meeting. The successful candidate will replace Dr. Renee Goier who is retiring at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

Prior to the second round of interviews with the board, the three candidates remaining are scheduled to meet with a community committee that will likely feature predominant members of the Deerfield area All of this will lead up to a decision scheduled to be announced at the January 2013 board meeting.

Monday’s meeting dealt with the questions that will be asked of the candidates. Board members later adjourned to closed session to discuss specific options to replace Goier. A decision was made months ago to keep the names of candidates confidential.

 The representatives of the search firm spent a bulk of the meeting going over the script that will be used to ask the prospective candidates in the initial set of interviews. Specifically, if the Board members follow the prepared script, they did not seem convinced all that ground could be covered in such a time frame.

“While the question may be specific to a particular topic that you are asking about, remember to come back to the characteristics that you thought were important and listen for those characteristics,” Gmitro said.

Second round of interviews will feature three candidates. Candidates will start meeting with the board December 7.

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RB November 27, 2012 at 07:22 PM
This never gets discussed.....save money and combine Districts, boards and administration. Save some money. Easily coordinate children moving from middle school to high school. It's costly and unproductive for a small town to have two Districts (one Union, one non-union) and all the associated overhead, politics and drama.
John Russillo November 27, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Keep saying it and someday it may magically happen.
John Russillo November 27, 2012 at 08:01 PM
I thought the consultant was on point with their comments. I'm sure they will provide very good guidance in this search. Let's just hope the board gets it. So far they have not shown that they understand the inner workings of a modern educational system and that's not going to happen anytime soon. I'm hoping this consultant, who has so far shown much more promise than the last HR consultant, can guide the board in the right direction. Also, there was no talk about this "community committee". At the very least, it should include the caucus endorsed board candidates. One or two community members with no children in the schools are fine, but this committee should be stocked with people who have a dog in the fight.
Corey Lynn November 27, 2012 at 08:18 PM
I will be most interested to see if we hire someone headed to retirement or someone headed to lead a much larger district.

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