School District to find own Superintendent
November 29, 2006
The Park City School Board decided not to decide on the hiring of a "headhunter" to find a new school superintendent. The no-decision, effectively laid to rest the hiring of a recruiting firm to find a prospective replacement for acting superintendent Tom Van Gorder.
"Headhunters" were discussed during the "decisions" portion of the school board meeting of Nov.21. Van Gorder was hired as an interim superintendent with the retirement of superintendent Dave Adamson, in July of 2006.
Van Gorder said his contract runs until June 30 of 2007. An earlier search for Adamson’s replacement proved unsuccessful. The search was conducted without the use of a private recruiter.
Van Gorder plans to resume as the Director of Student Services when a new superintendent is found. While overseeing the district, Van Gorder has taken action attempting to stem the declining school budget, detailed in a report by an independent autidor. Within two weeks of the report, he organized a committee of school personnel, administrators and community members to look in detail at district expenditures and make recommendations about how to rein in the district’s budget .
In considering traits that are imperative for a new superintendent, Van Gorder said, "This is a working position, not a figurehead position. The person has to have a strong ability to collaborate with people. There will be more challenges with figures if the legislature continues to fund the way they are funding."
School board member Vern Christensen was in favor of hiring a recruiting service.
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"Having used headhunters over 25 years, I appreciate what they can do," he said. "It’s a process that really helps you identify what you would like to have in a superintendent."
Christensen touted the services further: "Having an outside party to facilitate the process is beneficial. They’re motivated to go out and find what you’re looking for."
Christensen has talked with members of school districts who have used recruiters. He said of one, "They wanted to hire someone who is happy and doesn’t have to or want to leave his job."
Board member Kathryn Adair said she was not in favor of spending district funds on a recruiting firm.
Lisa Kirchenheiter, also on the board, said the districts she has seen use recruiters have ultimately gone back to the state to conduct the search. "The state has to answer to us in the future. With a commercial company, you pay them and they’re finished," she said. "The cost seems extravagant."
School board Vice President Kim Carson said she was left with an uneasy feeling using recruiters, and she was concerned with costs. She said of one district using such services, "locals weren’t really considered." She did not like the thought that recruiters might overlook local candidates because they mistakenly assumed they would not be as qualified as those from outside the state.
School-Board President David Chaplin spoke of a district who had used a recruiting service to hire a superintendent, "That superintendent in no longer there," and that the district would never use "headhunters" again. "I feel more comfortable about trying it one more time using state services."
No action was taken, so we won’t use the services of a recruiter, Chapman said.