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All Applications are in for new Superintendent

Frank Fisher, of the Record staff

A new Park City School District superintendent is almost within reach, as 15 well-qualified applicants applied for the position before the Feb. 28 deadline. It is now up to the school board to select a superintendent from among the applicants, who will take over from Acting Superintendent Tom Van Gorder.

Van Gorder, whose contract expires June 30, agreed to step in as an interim superintendent when Dave Adamson retired in July, 2006.

One previous superintendent search to replace Adamson proved unsuccessful. The district decided to take more time to fill the crucial position.

In January, the school board started a new search under the direction of Richard Stowell, the executive director of the Utah School Boards Association. Stowell has completed his search, and believes he will have the applications to the district within a week.

"At this point, I will pretty much hand the applications to the district," Stowell said. "I will take the baton and hand it off and they will run with it from there."

"We got a lot of really good responses, with a lot of interest in the location, from a lot of qualified candidates," said Stowell.

Stowell met with the school board in December, to define what the ideal superintendent would look like. They considered the younger, idealistic applicant, likely abounding with fresh ideas but maybe lacking in experience, verses the seasoned-veteran who is or has been a superintendent, and who understands the intricacies of the position but who may be winding down their career.

Also considered, was the approach Stowell might take in finding candidates.

Is it better to hire someone actively looking for a superintendent job, with the possible drawback that that person is unemployed, maybe for good reason, or, employed, but for whatever reason, the job is not going as well as the applicant would like? Or, another possible approach would be to contact people happy in their jobs, and encourage them to apply for the position, but with the likelihood, in order to leave their employment, they would require compensation and benefits beyond what the district’s budget would allow.

A brochure on the position was written, printed and distributed in January, courtesy of the Park City Education Foundation.

"The brochure the PCED Foundation put together is an excellent brochure," he said. It attracted a lot of attention. He said that the job posting on various Websites across the nation, drew good response. He said he also approached some who were happily employed and not actively looking for a new position.

What can the successful candidate expect as the new superintendent? The starting salary was listed at a minimum of $130,000 base plus an annual performance package, including such amenities as health, dental and vision insurance, Utah state retirement benefits, possible housing or allowances which take into consideration, the expensive housing in Park City, a tax-sheltered annuity and long-term disability and life insurance.

With one day remaining before the application deadline, Stowell accessed the applicants, and said about half come from within Utah. He said that most of applicants "have considerable experience, and are superintendents, or former superintendents."

"I’ve been really pleased. It’s been exciting working with the staff at the Park City district office," Stowell said. "I’ve certainly enjoyed the process." But Stowell knows that as his work ends on this search, the school boards work is just beginning.

"It will certainly be challenging for the board of education. They have their work cut out for them," he said, but he is confident in the results of this search. A final decision will likely come in March or April.

"You guys are going to end up with one great superintendent. I know many of the applicants. I am thrilled with them," he said. "It will be exciting to see who it’s going to be."


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