At the request of the school board, Jane Kershner, Director of Field Services, and Charlene Peterson, a field representative, with the New Jersey School Board Association, sought community input, presented a timeline of what the community can expect over the next few months during the hiring process and gave a copy of the advertisement for the position that has been posted on local media outlets already.
“Your school board asked us to get input from the community as well as from school administrators and staff on the superintendent search, so this is why we are here tonight,” Kershner said at the Dec. 9 forum.
“We are hoping to be your voice in the process,” Peterson said at the forum.
Kershner stated that herself and Peterson worked with the board in determining what the advertisement would say and what would be required of all candidates who apply.
The qualifications each candidate should meet and have, according to the advertisement, include: a NJ School Administrator Certificate; experience as a superintendent; high school experience preferred; demonstrated record of achievement and education leadership with strong interpersonal and communication skills.
“These are qualifications the board wants the candidates to meet, but the ones that the board would like to be absolutely required by each candidate is that they have the NJ School Administrator Certificate and are or have been a superintendent in the past,” Kershner said at the forum. “If an applicant does not meet these, they will not even be considered for an interview.”
Kershner also stated applicants who are or only have been assistants to superintendents will “not be considered.”
Other items the advertisement states is that the successful candidate will have proven leadership in personal management, curriculum and instruction, finance, community interaction, special education and long range planning, according to a hand-out given by Kershner and Peterson.
Kershner stated the advertisement of the position was posted in the Star Ledger on Dec. 8 and will run again in the newspaper on Dec. 15 and Jan. 12, 2014. The deadline for applicants for the superintendent position will be Jan 24, 2014 by 5 p.m.
According to Kershner, once all the applications are received, herself, Peterson and one other search consultant will go through the applications and pick qualified candidates for interviews with them. After those interviews, the search consultants will present the applications, interview questions and answers of all the candidates they interviewed and recommend ones to be further interviewed by the board.
“All of the paperwork comes to us ad we will see who would be good for an interview,” Kershner said. “We will follow the criteria the board is asking the candidates to meet during our interviews and then we will come back to the board and give them all the information and our take on each interview. We work with them with everything then they go through the applicants we recommend.”
Kershner said the final decision would be made by the board and to her knowledge; Interim Superintendent James O’Neill will be involved in some aspects of the process.
Some residents asked whether or not the community was going to be involved in the interview process and Kershner stated she could bring the idea back to the board, but that she would “not recommend” that to the board members due to confidentiality purposes of the candidates.
A resident also asked if it was possible to have the final candidates be presented to the public in a forum-like setting so they can ask questions before the board casts a vote.
Kershner stated she would bring that request back to the board from the community.
Another resident asked whether or not the cap imposed by Gov. Chris Christie on superintendent pay would affect the turnout for the number of applicants.
Kershner stated at the forum that despite the cap, there has been an “up tick” in the number of applicants for superintendent positions through their experience in searching for superintendents over the years.
“We have not seen fewer candidates interested, but the candidates who apply will most likely be people with experience as a superintendent, but not 25 years of experience since the more seasoned people are retiring or going elsewhere because of the $175,000 cap,” Kershner said.
The hand-out given to residents by Kershner and Peterson also included four questions and requested residents answer them and email them to Peterson by Dec. 19 at firstname.lastname@example.org, with West Orange Search in the subject line.
The questions are:
- What are the strengths and achievements of the West Orange School District and community?
- What critical issues will the school face in the next 3-4 years?
- What background/training/experience should the new superintendent have?
- What leadership style/personal characteristics are important in a new superintendent?
The search consultants will be with the board of education every step of the way, according to Kershner, and stated that the board will be the only entity with the final say on picking the new superintendent.
“It is nobody else’s job to hire the superintendent except the board and we only make recommendations,” Kershner said. “We come in unbiased and have this process that is tried and true.”
The West Orange Board of Education Superintendent Search Calendar provided by Kershner and Peterson on the handout is as follows:
Sept. 4 and Oct. 7: Refine process, begin board criteria development. Approve input processes (if desired)
Dec. 8, Dec. 15 and Jan. 12, 2014: Ad appears in Star Ledger and information to be distributed to associations, colleges, county superintendents, etc. and posted on NJSBA and other websites.
Dec. 9: Meetings with community and staff
Jan. 24, 2014: Deadline for receipt of completed applications
Feb. 3, 2014: Consultant delivers weighted pool to the board. Board approves interview schedule and questions.
Board also reviews applicants and selects candidates for interview.
April 1, 2014: Board submits new contract to County superintendent for approval
May 1, 2014: Board hires and publicly approves new Superintendent and introduces superintendent to staff and community.
July 1, 2014: New superintendent begins work in district, 60 days after appointment date.
*In between Feb. 3 and April 1, 2014, the board will meet for a superintendent contract training, conduct first round interviews, second round interviews, select finalists and their references, among other items at dates that are currently TBD.