The search for the next superintendent

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 2:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 2:44 p.m.

Dan Boyd, who served as our superintendent of schools in Alachua County for nine years, recently retired. As a School Board, we were faced with the decision of selecting the next superintendent and doing our due diligence to make sure we get the best possible person.

In October, the board met to formulate a process. Hershel Lyons was hired to serve as interim superintendent. A national search was adopted. We discussed what qualities the board would like to see in the next superintendent and set a salary range between $140,000 and $170,000 for advertisement.

A decision was made to go with the Florida School Boards Association to do the search because it is familiar with Florida, experienced in superintendent searches, and would perform the search at a reasonable cost to the district.

How would the community be involved?

Fortunately, we were nearing the conclusion of developing our strategic plan. In doing so, we used public forums to engage the public and had already decided to have a District Advisory Council (DAC) to monitor the use of the plan. Both venues would now be used as part of our superintendent search. We also added an online survey to further give access to community members.

The next step was meeting with the School Boards Association. A timeline was formulated with a target date of July 1, 2014, to have a new superintendent in place. It was decided how to advertise the position. The application process would run from Jan. 1, 2014, to Feb. 28, 2014. The final number of applicants received was 27. A list of semifinalists derived from these applicants will be presented to the School Board on March 18 by the FSBA. In collaboration with the FSBA, the board will decide which applicants will advance.

The structure of the DAC was developed. It would consist of members taken from school advisory councils, along with community members. Those willing and able would review each semifinalist and give a narrative of each candidate's qualifications using a district-developed and board-approved template.

On April 15, the board will select the finalists from the list of semifinalists. Various meetings involving the board, DAC, Alachua County Education Association and the community will be set up over a two-day period for each candidate.

The School Board will then decide on the candidate we feel should be our next superintendent. This will be a decision that will impact our children and community. I feel confident we have approached this important decision in a way to ensure we end up with an excellent superintendent to lead us into the future.

Dr. Gunnar Paulson is chairman of the School Board of Alachua County.

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