Tecumseh School board refines profile in superintendent search
The Tecumseh School Board got down to business in its search for a new superintendent at the Monday, Sept. 24, meeting. The trustees had been asked at the last meeting by Michigan Association of School Board search facilitator Richard Dunham to complete a profile of characteristics that they would like a new superintendent to possess and return the survey to Dunham to be combined into a preliminary overview. The profile should reflect the board’s consensus on such details as leadership style, personnel management experience, curriculum philosophies, public relations, and contract negotiation expertise.
The board members were also asked to estimate a salary range that they would be comfortable with, noting that averages for districts of Tecumseh’s size averaged $120,000 to $140,000 per year, plus benefits. In previous discussions, Dunham had recommended that salary specifications be left out of the initial job posting to leave room for negotiations when the pool of applicants had been narrowed enough to begin the discussion of actual salary.
Dunham said that when the time came, it would be necessary to give the candidates a ballpark figure, and the decision was to begin the negotiation at between $111,000 and $120,000 annually and adjust that figure according to a number of criteria, including experience.
The board members had been asked to rank their ideal superintendent characteristics according to importance, but Trustee Stan Ames took exception with the ranking exercise, saying, “I expect the person we hire to have all of those abilities and ranking them is pointless.”
Board Vice President Jim Rice tempered that point of view. “Every candidate should have some expertise in all of the subjects and the personality characteristics we’re looking for, but they don’t need to be experts in all aspects. We have people on staff who take care of the details of many of those jobs,” Rice said.
A discussion of the definitions of some of the characteristics ensued, and there was discussion about defining such phrases as “good personnel management” and “leadership style,” among other phrases. Dunham pointed out that a good superintendent candidate could make adjustments to accommodate what a school board is looking for in leadership.
“I would like someone who is visible and accessible,” Rice said. “That doesn’t mean that they have to be everywhere and attend every game.”
Personality traits came under discussion with honesty, problem-solving ability, vision, ethics, affability, and good communication skills featuring prominently. Dunham reminded the trustees that the profile they are constructing is a template for winnowing out potential candidates. “This profile is just a tool,” he said. “When it comes down to it, we can’t really explain what a ‘fit’ is, referring to the phrase ‘a good fit for the district and community.’ It’s simply a starting point. It helps in the screening process.”
Dunham told the board that the next step is to begin engaging the community in the discussion. He said he is working with Executive Assistant to the Superintendent Teri Hoeft to compile a list of organizations that should be approached for input on the selection of the new superintendent, with a tentative open forum for general public comment on Thursday, Oct 18. Specifics will be announced at a later date.
Dunham will be compiling a comprehensive profile from all of the board, staff, and community input, which he described as a “stakeholder profile,” meaning a broad description of the common characteristics for consideration by the board members in their assessments of the applicants. “In my experience,” he said, “most of the time what the board and community want is the same thing.”
Dunham said that he expects to have the superintendent position posted by Oct. 22, with the first round of interviews occurring in late January and a contract offer perhaps as soon as mid-February.
In other board business:
Trustees unanimously approved a trip by Tecumseh Symphony Orchestra students to Grand Rapids to participate in the Michigan Music Conference Jan. 17-18. Orchestra and instrumental instructors Michael Bough and Amy Marr were at the meeting to explain the $7,190 expense to send the students to the prestigious event, which is by invitation only. Students and their parents have contributed, also, to help defray the expense to the district.
Bough said that it is the highest honor that an orchestra can obtain at the state level. Only two high school orchestras and one middle school orchestra were invited to the conference that draws conductors and instructors from all over Michigan. Besides the THS orchestra, Ann Arbor Pioneer High School Symphony Orchestra will also be performing.
The board also approved unanimously:
• purchase of lunch tables for Patterson Elementary School
• a three-day leave for a Tecumseh Middle School teacher for birth of his child
The next school board meeting will be Monday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m. in the administrative services building, 212 N. Ottawa St.