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May 6, 2012

Greater Clark close to finding new superintendent

JEFFERSONVILLE —  Interviews for a new superintendent for Greater Clark County Schools are set

to begin this week.

At the GCCS board of trustees’ meeting on May 1, board president Christina Gilkey said the  district’s superintendent search committee had narrowed the field of applicants from 17 to five. Though she said the process is taking a little longer than expected, she expects to name superintendent Stephen Daeschner’s replacement by June 1.

“We’re not trying to rush it, we’re trying to do it the right way,” Gilkey said. “We knew [May 15] was just a guideline, not an absolute deadline.”

Gilkey said the applicants — both before and after narrowing down who the committee would

interview — were both in-state and out-of-state.

But narrowing the scope was an area where they needed an extra hand. The committee used a statewide university search team to initially help publicize the opening, but also to help whittle down who would get interviewed.

The university team was comprised of education experts from Indiana University, Purdue University, Ball State University and Indiana State University.

The search team is a free service offered through the state. Greater Clark only paid mileage expenses for the representatives of the team.

Betty Poindexter, the Indiana University representative, said hiring a superintendent is a difficult, complex process.

“I think that filling that position is one of the toughest positions a board can do,” Poindexter said. “They have to spend a lot of time getting that done because it’s so important. They need to look at the possibility of getting candidates from out-of-state and in-state to find someone that’s the right fit.”

And the right fit has several qualifications to meet that the district’s search committee has deemed non-negotiable. Gilkey said whoever takes the spot needs to have experience either as a superintendent or assistant superintendent, a proven history of academic success, charisma to bring the staff and community together, excellent communication skills and experience with a diverse population of students.

The university search team helped the district find candidates that would meet those expectations. After this week’s interview of the five candidates, Gilkey said that field will narrow to three.

Poindexter said it’ll be easier now that the resumes have been analyzed, but the hard part will come with the interviews of each candidate.

“It’s finding someone with the personal characteristis that people will want to work with and be able to respect,” Poindexter said. “It’s not something you can quickly deny by research, that’s for sure.”

But without the help of the university search team, she said the process would have been much more difficult.

“They were invaluable to us because three out of the four attended the session with us,” Gilkey said. “Combined, they have over 100 years of experience with public education in Indiana. What they bring to the table is just an unbelievable amount of experience and knowledge in what works, what’s a good fit and a personal knowledge of most of the candidates.”

She said by helping the district figure out who to interview, a lot of time was saved by the search team.

“I feel like we could have spun our wheels quite a bit by interviewing some of the people that the university search team would have eventually told us wouldn’t work,” Gilkey said.

But Gilkey said experts weren’t the only help in the process. A team of community members living in and around the district also gave input on what they’d like to see in someone filling Daeschner’s shoes.

But some community members have suggested the district hire an interim superintendent until the next elections for the school board, Gilkey said. She said rather than wait that long, hiring a new superintendent immediately would lead to less disruption among the staff and the rest of the district.

“What we’ve heard from the search committee and from staff is that it would be great to the least amount of disruption during the changeover as possible,” Gilkey said. “You’re really cutting off your ability to have a continuous mobility when you’re having two changes like that in six months’ time.”

After this round of interviews, the board hopes to narrow the scope of candidates from five to three. Those three will be interviewed at a date the board expects to announce at their next meeting. GIlkey said the board will likely announce the new superintendent on June1.


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