Superintendent Steve Seid explained to the board the process of finding the final candidate for the middle school principal position after the board raised concerns about the candidate having no previous administrative experience. The final candidate, who is a current Clarke Elementary teacher, needs board approval to be hired.
The assembled administrative team looked at all 19 candidates for the position and Seid asked them to choose their top five. Four of those really showed potential and were given interviews with the admin team and a teacher team, rotating through the two groups. After the interviews, both teams debriefed on the candidates.
“The first question that I ask always is, are any of the candidates not viable for this position,” said Seid. “Both teams felt all four candidates were viable for this position. So then we went around and provided information about who we felt were the individuals who were best qualified for this vacancy.”
Both teachers and admin felt that the final candidate was the best qualified.
“One of the things that I think was important for the middle school was classroom experience and along with that would be knowledge of curriculum, communication skills and past leadership experience, those were some of the items we discussed,” said Seid.
“I guess I don’t have hesitation about no experience because sometimes I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing coming in to a position because then you can bring in your own views and bring in some fresh ideas...” said board member Wendy Short.
Board president Dena White and board member Robin Galves both expressed concerns about the lack of major leadership roles that the final candidate has experience in. Galves told the board that while being a teacher is a position of leadership that going from being in a classroom to being a principal is a big jump. White gave the leadership role example of an instructional coach and questioned how elementary classroom experience really would prepare the candidate for a role in the middle school. Two of the four candidates who were interviewed did have administrative experience.
Questions were also raised about the offered salary.
“It’s below the state average for the position and is $19,000 less than what is currently being paid,” said Seid. “And knowing all the activities that this person will be responsible for was one of the factors in that.”
Galves raised concerns about the hiring team not including community members like had been done in previous key leadership roles such as hiring the elementary principal Jody Kerchal.
“I think we need to get that in writing from here on out,” said Galves. “Honestly, it bothers me that we didn’t follow that for this particular role.”
Board member Shawna Henry wanted information about training for the final candidate. New principals get a mentor assigned to them from the School Administrators of Iowa. SAI finds districts near in proximity and size to ensure that new principals learn and feel comfortable in the new role. The mentor is available for the first year to help guide and advise the new principal.
The final candidate currently is waiting for out of state paperwork to go through after passing the test before being able to apply for the administrative license. The paperwork and licensing is expected to be done in April and the update will be listed on the Department of Education website. The board voted to approve the final candidate as Clarke Middle School Principal pending the license being shown to the board. The candidate will be announced after board approval.