Selection process under way for superintendent
Socorro Consolidated Schools could have a new superintendent as soon as the first week in April, according to a timeline agreed upon by the school board at its Monday, Jan. 9 meeting.
Applications will be accepted beginning this week, finalists will be screened in February and interviews will be conducted on or about March 23, at which time the board will make its selection. Allowing a week or so for contract negotiations, the final choice could be announced as early as April 2.
When they arrive in Socorro in March, the finalists will have not one but three job interviews, one conducted by the board and two given by interview committees, each made up of five people appointed by board members.
The interview committee members will ask questions and give feedback, but will not actually be involved in the final selection.
“It has to be clear to the committees that they’re for input only,” Dr. Daniel Patterson said.
Patterson was hired as a search consultant, for a $7,000 fee, plus expenses that he agreed to cap at $2,000. Diana Billingsley, a former personnel director from the Hobbs school system and a retired superintendent from the Capitan district, will assist him.
At the meeting, Patterson presented a 19-step plan to take the board from beginning to end of the search process, starting with establishing the timeline and ending in July with helping the board to nail down five expectations for the new superintendent’s first year on the job.
Patterson has already helped the board identify the qualities they’re looking for in a candidate, and will begin advertising the vacancy this week. He has asked the board, in the meantime, to select members for the two interview committees, and get those names to him by Jan. 23.
One committee will be made up of an elementary grade teacher, to be selected by James Chavez; a middle school teacher to be selected by Kimberly Gonzales; a high school teacher selected by Dawn Weaver; and two school administrators, one each to be selected by Pauline Jaramillo and board president, Ann Shiells.
The other committee will be made up of a staff member from any school, to be selected by Chavez; two parents, one each to be selected by Gonzales and Weaver; and two community members, one each to be selected by Jaramillo and Shiells.
All participants will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement, and will need to be available on Feb. 13 for training and on or about March 23 for the interviewing.
Patterson reiterated that the interview committees will not be selection committees, and that the members would have to agree not to disclose the contents of the interviews or any subsequent conversations and comments made or overheard regarding the candidates.
Patterson also said committee members would need to be aware that in making its decision, the board might be in possession of information that the interview committees didn’t have.
Training for the volunteer committees will take place on Feb. 13, when the search consultants will advise the members on interview dos and don’ts, and help them develop appropriate interview questions.
In the meantime, as the applications come in, Patterson and Billingsley will begin screening the candidates and checking their references. Patterson said his extensive network of contacts will allow him to check not only the references the candidates put on their applications but also to talk with employers, coworkers and other people the applicants may not have chosen to list.
“If you get an application from a person in Kenya, I guarantee we can find someone in Kenya who knows them,” Patterson said.
At its Feb. 27 meeting, the board will go into executive session to winnow the candidates down to six finalist and three alternates.
Although many of the details have been ironed out already, there are some more open-ended questions that have yet to be answered. One of them is whether the board is happy with the way things are going and wants a superintendent who will continue on the present path, or if it’s looking for a person to come in and make some changes.
“As a board, that’s something you have to decide,” Patterson said.
Patterson said he’s already had inquiries about the job from four or five interested parties.
In Other Business:
- The board approved a budget adjustment request to account for an increase of $36,000 to the original award of $127,000 for the Seery Gym roof project.
- The board approved the 2010-11 Financial Audit for the district. Finance Officer Donald Monette said the report, available on the district website, contained no significant findings, but recommended some minor procedural changes.
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