Fort Calhoun Community Schools

Fort Calhoun Community Schools

It's in the most initial of phases, but the Fort Calhoun Community Schools (FCCS) School Board has begun the search for the district's next superintendent.

The school board hired the Nebraska Association of School Boards (NASB) to perform superintendent search services for FCCS at a special meeting held Nov. 25. The search service will include multiple steps to help the district find a replacement for current Supt. Don Johnson, who last month announced his retirement effective at the end of the school year.

"The superintendent search, for me, they're kind of giving us a one-stop shop of everything that we're looking for a superintendent," board member Amanda Schrum said.

Though the district has three internal candidates interested in the position, board members agreed that hiring the NASB search service allows the board to do its due diligence and select the best candidate for the job whether that person be from in or outside of FCCS.

"It can include the internal candidates as well, but we're also being very open to the public and showing them we're doing our due diligence and doing what's best for the district," Schrum said. "I think this covers all of that."

During the special meeting, Shari Becker, the director of the search service for NASB, went over the process of the superintendent search. FCCS will pay $6,000 for the service, which includes advertising the position, creating of a candidate profile and screening of applicants by NASB.

"We'll take care of all of the advertising, and then of course our webpage, which I will tell you right now just gets a ton of people looking at it this time of year," Becker said.

Becker said she expects about 15 people will apply for the position. Those candidates will be compared to a candidate profile NASB creates from a survey completed by each individual school board member.

"To give us your thoughts about what you think is good in the school and the community, what are some things that might be challenging for a new superintendent and also what type of characteristics or attributes the new superintendent would need to have to be successful," Becker said.

The profile will be a one-page document that compiles from board member surveys a general overview of the ideal applicants characteristics and what board members want the applicant to be able to do as superintendent.

"The document will really guide a lot of pieces of the search," Becker said, such as creating interview questions.

Interview questions should relate back to the document and the document can be used to assess candidates against each other, Becker said. It will also serve as a goal-planning document for the new superintendent hired.

Though the school board has the ultimate vote on the hiring, Becker said NASB will also get input from students, staff, teachers and community members about a new superintendent.

"That information gets compiled and we share it with the board," Becker said. "We also will utilize that information to help us when we're screening applicants to just remind us what everybody's looking for."

NASB will screen applicants using applications, letters of reference and confidential character forms. For internal candidates, NASB will confidentially contact school board members to get opinions on internal candidates and give general overviews on comments to the board. NASB will also give general overviews of every applicant to the board.

Becker said it is important for board members to let NASB handle all communication with applicants regarding the superintendent position, including internal candidates.

"You communicating with them might be mistaken for an interview or a job offer," she said. "Just be real careful and let us try to handle all that so you're not put into a sticky situation."

NASB's search service comes with a two-year guarantee. If the new superintendent selected does not work out for any reason, NASB will perform another search for free. Becker said, however, the search yields good results.

A planning meeting with FCCS board members will take place in December. Applicants will be presented to the board by the end of January with interviews currently planned for the beginning of February.

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