In today's (February 1, 2013) Southbridge Evening News, we learn that plans for a new search for a Superintendent of Schools are being considered. Back in June 2012, prior to the multitude of problems Southbridge has encountered with its administrative leadership, I suggested that the time had come to think about the next search. I repeat that blog post here for those who want a way forward to a successful conclusion to a new search.
A day or two ago, I suggested that now is the time to begin thinking about searching for a new Southbridge Superintendent of Schools. Current Superintendent Eric Ely has certainly indicated a desire to leave as soon as he secures another position. Southbridge needs to be proactive and agree not to renew Mr. Ely's contract when it expires. Until then, some thoughtful preparation can begin.
Toward that end, I mentioned a book that I said I would look at if I were going to be involved in a search. The name of the book is Searching for SUPER: What Every Board Should Know Before Starting the Superintendent Search Process.
I have since purchased and read this book, and I found it quite interesting. Among other helpful suggestions about the process, the book describes many of the pitfalls a search committee can face along the way. Some of them so perfectly illustrated those that occurred in the last search for a Superintendent of Schools in Southbridge that one would think the authors were taking notes. Consider this from the book:
The board handles disagreements as professionals and doesn’t get mired in petty politics or public bickering. Solomon, Gary; Keith, Michelle E. ; Quinn , Dr. Timothy G. ; Vranas, Thomas (2012-06-06). Searching for SUPER: What Every Board Should Know Before Starting the Superintendent Search Process (Kindle Locations 288-290). . Kindle Edition.
No driver with a well-marked route has to worry about driving over a cliff. A ship's captain has to know all the hiding rocks and treacherous shoals. Much can be avoided when a Superintendent Search Committee carefully plans and prepares for the road ahead.
The book gives examples of different types of searches; i.e., the School Committee doing its own search, the Committee utilizing a state Board Association (the option attempted by our last search), and using a professional service devoted strictly to finding Superintendents of Schools.
The Interim Pitfall
Not surprisingly, the book recommends a search done by a professional search firm devoted strictly to securing Superintendents of Schools. The book is written by just such a company: PROACT Search.
Of course, there are other companies as well. This list from the New York State School Boards Association provides some. Look at the category marked National Superintendent Search Firms.
Finally, some may bring up the cost of using a professional search firm. As this book states, there are a great many stakeholders who benefit from an exemplary school system. All should share in the costs it takes to get us there.
Come on, Southbridge. Let's do it right this time.