HCPS seeks search help for super

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By Melissa Blankenship

Faced with replacing its superintendent, members of the Henry County Board of Education had three choices – do it themselves, contract with the Kentucky Association of School Administrators (KASA) to conduct the search, or contract with the Kentucky School Board Administration (KSBA).
Board members listened to presentations from both organizations and discussed the merits of each option at a special meeting of the board last Thursday. Board member Donnie Tipton was candid with one of the presenters.
“I would personally rather not hire either one of you, but these days, we don’t really have a choice,” Tipton said. “It’s scary to even think about it. We’ve been so fortunate since I’ve been on the board. We’ve gone a long time with very good superintendents. It’s scary as to what you’re going to get.”
The last time the board had to undertake a superintendent search 15 years ago, it opted to handle the process in-house. In light of the recent regulations and legalities of the process and in an effort to promote transparency in the superintendent search, board members voted to contract with KSBA to oversee the search.
“This is the biggest decision a school board makes, and we will do everything possible to make sure you get the best person for the job,” said Don Martin of the KSBA.
Martin said KSBA breaks the search into five phases: search plan development in which he works with board members to develop a timeline, prepare advertisements, establish a screening committee and then explain to the committee its responsibilities in the process; advertisement and recruitment in which KSBA advertises the position, notifies districts across the state of the opening, notifies its candidate pool of the position, confidentially receives all applications, and processes applications for the screening committee; screening committee work which includes guiding and working with the committee throughout the process, preparing all the needed paperwork and developing legal advertisements; board interviews at which KSBA will help the board review the screening committees recommendations and schedule interviews with finalists; and lastly, appointment in which a sample contract is prepared, legal guidance is provided and assistance is provided through contract negotiations.
KSBA has conducted 150 superintendent searches, including neighboring Oldham County last school year and Trimble County the year before.
“Take it to heart, the last thing we want to see is a weak person sitting in that position,” Martin said. “I will continue to work with you after that hiring decision. It’s in the best interests of us both to put the best person possible in that position.”
The board voted unanimously to contract the superintendent search through KSBA at a cost of $6,200. The quote from KASA for similar services was $7,000. Martin will be at the Feb. 23 board of education meeting to get started with the search process. A standard timeline would have a superintendent hired by mid- to late-May.
“We have members who are very experienced with this, three have been through superintendent searches previously who want to be transparent with the process,” HCPS Superintendent Tim Abrams said. “They will want to do a thorough search for the right person to move this district forward. They want what’s best for kids in Henry County and they will do their due diligence to find the best fit for Henry County Schools, working in conjunction with screening committee.
“Hiring an outside organization to conduct the search is the right thing to do for a lot of reasons,” Abrams added. “If you hire the wrong person it could cost you a lot more than $6,200.”