District leader sought: SUSD posts interim superintendent job online

Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board (Photo by Arianna Grainey)

The position for interim superintendent of the Scottsdale Unified School District has been posted online.

On Friday, April 20, the SUSD interim superintendent job post and description were listed.

Meanwhile, on April 18, the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board directed staff to use the Request for Quote process to hire a consultant to assist with the interim superintendent search.

During a regular meeting on April 17, the Governing Board continued its discussions on soliciting an interim and permanent superintendent.

Ultimately, the board would like to find an interim leader quickly, and spend time searching for a permanent superintendent.

At the Governing Board meeting, Associate Superintendent Dr. Steve Chestnut provided an overview of past district practices for procuring superintendents, and the proposed process.

The current tentative timeline for the interim superintendent search is:

  • May 7: Job posting to close
  • May 8: Begin screening applicants
  • May 14: Begin screening applicants
  • May 21: Second round interviews

More dates and planned actions are to come, district officials say.

Since 2000, SUSD has searched for five superintendents, according to Dr. Chestnut, ranging in cost from $4,500 to $47,000 depending on firm or process used.

Dr. Steve Chestnut

Most recently, in 2016 the district had a contract with the Arizona School Boards Association worth $25,000 for an interim and permanent superintendent search, but the contract was discontinued and no payment was made, Dr. Chestnut noted.

Piggy-backing off of the Governing Board’s conversation earlier in the month, Mr. Chestnut reviewed the main areas of the board’s search.

The board desires to have two parallel searches going on — one for interim and one for permanent superintendents — with different timelines for.

The job posting was posted on the district website, ESI and Smart Schools will be contacted for potential candidates and a Request for Quote process to hire a consultant to assist with the interim superintendent search has been initiated.

“We could do it in about a month,” Mr. Chestnut said of the Governing Board’s interim search timeline. “I know the board had some discussion about keeping names confidential. This screening committee could be a smaller group, or a larger group could include community members or not. Just while I’m thinking about it, there are multiple options.”

A proposed interview committee included SUSD General Counsel Michelle Marshall, two Governing Board members, two teachers, one classified staff member, one administrator and two community members.

The Governing Board has also expressed interest in doing background checks, including the talk of private investigators, into potential candidates.

“There’s several options that the Governing Board would have,” Mr. Chestnut said.

Mr. Chestnut says through Mohave Education Services cooperative contract services include background investigative services, name verification, criminal history and federal and national search capabilities.

Pam Kirby (Photo by Arianna Grainey)

“One of the comments last week was we need to tell these candidates what they’re walking into, and I wholeheartedly agree with that,” Governing Board member Pam Kirby said at the meeting. “And, my thought is that we use the trust, and if I can legally say, I’m happy to say, which firm I’d like to use.”

Ms. Kirby says there’s one local firm that has done all of the district’s investigative work to date, and could “clearly articulate” the district’s closeted skeletons.

The board members discussed using local media to initiate a question-and-answer series, similar to a candidate of a public election, and hosting public forums.

A site for community members to express their desired qualities in both an interim and permanent superintendent is available on the district website, as well as the job description and posting.

The Governing Board approved the initiation of an RFQ process to hire a search consultant for the interim superintendent with a 5-0 vote.

The Governing Board will be seeking a permanent superintendent to lead the district starting in the 2019-20 school year. A timeline is coming soon, the district website states.

On April 12, the Governing Board voted to issue a request for proposals from search firms to assist in securing a permanent superintendent.

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be e-mailed at mfittro@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/melissafittro.

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