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Even with search firm contract, school board wants to take lead in superintendent search

Editors note: This story will run in the March 20 edition of the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune.

It appears Clarke Community School Board wants to take the reins in the new superintendent search — with or without the aid of search firm McPherson and Jacobson.

This was the general sentiment during a March 10 school board meeting.

Janine Nelson asked questions about the superintendent search firm McPherson and Jacobson, and what involvement they have had so far.

Gerard Linskens, school board president, said the purpose of the superintendent meeting agenda item was for the school board to review available days to have workshops and set up interviews.

"Excuse me, are we talking about including McPherson and Jacobson and setting up times with them?" Nelson asked.

"Not at this time," Linskens answered.

Then, Nelson inquired the reason for not including the search firm.

"There are a variety of reasons. It will be too lengthy to explain right now," Linskens said.


Clarke Community School District is in need of a new superintendent because current Superintendent Benita Gonzales gave her letter of resignation during a February board meeting. Gonzales' resignation is effective June 30.

During the February board meeting, the boardroom was packed with people observing the meeting. It was also packed during the March 10 board meeting.

It's been less than a year since the school board hired Gonzales. In April 2013, the board announced a one-year superintendent contract was awarded to Gonzales, who was the shared superintendent of Sigourney and Tri-County Community school districts.

When the school board was looking for an interim superintendent and full-time superintendent last year, it hired the search firm McPherson and Jacobson.

Services already paid

During the March 10 meeting, Nelson reminded people the school board has a contract with McPherson and Jacobson that guarantees their services for two years when searching for a superintendent.

"It would help us with our replacement," Nelson said. "I think it would be quite logical that we would contact them and have them involved."

Nelson asked the board if they had contacted McPherson and Jacobson yet. Linskens said the answer was no.

"At this time, we're getting together now and discussing the search for our workshops," Linskens said. "There were some concerns last year with that firm, so we may use them in some particular areas, but not a full-fledged search led by them. We want to be the leader in the search."

Nelson asked what was the point in paying for their services if the school board isn't going to be using them?

Board members said not everything has been decided yet.

"This is where things start, at the school board here," Linskens said. "… We didn't want to jump the gun and contact the search firm because there were concerns brought up at that time. So, this is where we start."


The board decided to schedule a workshop 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 17. A second workshop was scheduled for the week of April 1.


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