In an executive session with Ray & Associates, the firm leading the search for a new superintendent, the SMSD Board of Education narrowed down the initial superintendent applicants to a short list of “top tier” candidates Jan. 20.
The first round of interviews for the candidates has begun, initiating one of the last stages in this process.
According to the official timeline established at the meeting, the process has now entered the fourth out of five stages in the search. In this stage, called “Candidate Presentation”, the top candidates are selected and interviewed by the board.
“There’s a possibility that it could take us all the way through February, into March perhaps,” board member and East parent Dr. Mary Sinclair said. “The lack of specificity on that, actually, as I’m learning in that process, is also about providing the confidentiality for the applicants.”
Through surveys sent out by R&A, as well as criteria established by the Student Superintendent Search Team, the East and district community added valuable input to the search, according to Sinclair.
Additionally, questions that district members would want their superintendent to answer were submitted, and are being used in the interview, according to Sinclair. She believes that these criteria, which include good communication and strong instructional leadership, will aid in selecting a superintendent who will fit the needs of the district.
The SSST, a group of district high schoolers, was formed last September schools, also provided their own feedback on what the district should look for in a superintendent. According to junior Luke Bledsoe, a member of the team, experience and authority were considered to be some of the most “top priority” attributes to the students.
“I think it’s important that students get involved in this,” Bledsoe said. “I think these district administrators don’t always engage with students on a personal, day to day level, so I think adding students to that decision process is adding a voice for the people who are actually affected by the choices made.”
In addition to direct community participation, Dr. Sinclair is responsible for representing the East community as the process moves forward, according to Principal John McKinney. The board hopes to have a final candidate selected and an offer made by March, Sinclair said.
“We elected [Dr. Sinclair] to represent our community, and I trust her to do just that,” McKinney said. “I am confident that the seven members of the board will do their due diligence and make sure they choose a candidate who will represent the district as a whole, equally and fairly.”