GALENA-The search is officially on for a new superintendent for the Galena School District.

During a special board meeting Monday evening, Jan. 28, the Galena School Board met for the first time with Gary McAndrew, a Peosta, Iowa-based consultant for McPherson & Jacobson, the search firm the board hired to lead the process.

Present for the meeting was board president Barb Miller and board members Mike Campbell, John Cox, Nancy Lewis, Pete Kieffer and Chuck Korte. Lara Rosenthal was absent. Board candidates Laura Edmonds, Eric Dregne, Katie Wienen, Mike Hyland, Richard Brandt, Milan Blaho and Tom Long were also in attendance to participate in the discussion.

The group spent the majority of the just over two-hour long meeting establishing the search criteria for candidates.

Background information

Leading the discussion, McAndrew first introduced himself to the board and provided some background.

Originally from Dubuque, McAndrew works in human resources for American Trust and is in his second term on the Western Dubuque School Board. He's worked as a consultant for McPherson & Jacobson for the past three years.

McAndrew said he brings a unique perspective as one of the few consultants for McPherson & Jacobson who is not a current or former school superintendent. McAndrew will work on the Galena search with Dr. Lloyd Kilmer, a fellow consultant and professor of educational leadership at the Western Illinois University campus in Moline.

Phases of the process

McAndrew explained for the board each of the five phases of the superintendent search process, starting with phase one, which was actually taking place that same evening.

Phase one, according to McAndrew was to discuss and establish the characteristics the board is seeking in a superintendent, draft a timeline for the search process and set where the district would advertise the position.

The next step, in phase two, McAndrew said, would be to hold stakeholder input meetings (teachers, staff, board of education, administration, booster club members, community members, etc.), all of whom would be involved in the eventual interview process. From those sessions, the firm puts together a brochure that helps recruit candidates.
All interested candidates will fill out an application, McAndrew said.

Phase three includes the reference checks on candidates, the board's selection of candidates to interview and the interview questions. There's another meeting with the stakeholder groups.

And then comes phase four, the interviews and the selection of the new superintendent.

The final step in the process, phase five, is the follow up the firm provides the district in the months following the selection.

The entire process, from start to finish, excluding phase five, typically takes three months. The board decided to hold stakeholder meetings on Wednesday, Feb. 13, meet Thursday, April 3 to determine candidates to interview and then hold interviews April 16-19. The final selection and offer is typically made following the final interview, said McAndrew.

The board passed a motion to move the April board meeting to Thursday, April 25.

Before moving into the search criteria, the board decided to advertise for the position in several online forums including the McPherson & Jacobson site (part of the services offered) and the Illinois Department of Education Job Bank, among others.

Stakeholder groups

Turning attention to the stakeholder groups that will be offering input on the future superintendent and actually participating in the interview process, McAndrew suggested the board, board candidates, administrators, teachers and others be part of the process.

The time commitment will not be small, said McAndrew, explaining the interview process itself will take four days and the groups will provide feedback after meeting with each candidate.

Board candidate Mike Hyland pointed out there are many retired administrators in the community who he feels would offer important insight in the hiring process. Hyland suggested those individuals should be invited and encouraged to participate.

Hyland also said he feels extra curricular staff should be a separate stakeholder group from the rest of the faculty because the two groups have different perspectives on issues at times and look at things differently.

Board candidate Laura Edmonds asked if the community could be asked for input and then perhaps the questions and concerns raised could be used in the process instead of requiring community members to dedicate so much time to the cause.

Selection criteria

The board then turned to the most time consuming portion of the meeting as they brainstormed and reworded search criteria and studied examples of what other districts have used in the past.

McAndrew explained the search criteria is important because on the applicant for the position candidates are asked to respond in 250 words to each criteria, sharing on the application their background and approach.