Brooklyn Center’s School Board, with help from the Minnesota School Boards Association, is continuing its search for a new superintendent with experience in an urban school district and establishing partnerships in the community.
The board spent its Nov. 26 work session revising the criteria for the position and the timeline to hire a replacement for Supt. Keith Lester, who is retiring this year. Lester is currently working on an interim basis.
Board members and school district staff already interviewed several people for the job in October and November, but did not find a candidate who met the initial criteria.
The new deadline for applications is Feb. 15, 2013, and the interviews will be held in March.
Sandy Gundlach, the director of school board services for the Minnesota School Boards Association, said the board needed to revise its criteria for the superintendent within a week of its work session so she could advertise the position again.
Gundlach also said the board should consider including a salary range for applicants, but it did not favor that idea.
“I personally resist putting (a) salary range in the ad,” said Boardmember Greg Thielsen.
Two years ago, Lester’s full-time salary was $145,000, said Assistant to the Superintendent Tammy Albers.
Lester also agreed to take a pay cut, making 65 percent of his salary, to help stabilize the district’s funding.
The salary offered to a new superintendent candidate would depend on their experience and skills, Albers said.
Cheryl Jechorek, the school board chair, also said a salary range should not be included in the job description. “If we find someone who is the best fit, it may be worth it to us to spend more than what we want,” Jechorek said.
Gundlach responded that the salary information provides clarity for potential candidates. “People look at location, reputation and the motivation to apply is the salary. Then it’s not about the guess work,” she said.
‘Points of Pride’
The board and staff at the work session did want to focus on improving descriptions of its “Points of Pride” for superintendent candidates, especially the community schools model in Brooklyn Center.
“Sometimes there is a misconception about what a community school district is,” said Boardmember Jeffrey Palm. “We need to define it more.”
Jane Ellis, the principal at Earle Brown Elementary School, said the term community school district creates the sense that it is in the neighborhood.
“We really have to define that this is a service-oriented district or it gets lost in the wording,” she said.
For example, the district has services from the Health Resource Center to offer low cost medical, dental and mental health care to anyone through high school age and after school programs for students and their families.
Ellis was recently interviewed in the district and started her job as the Earle Brown Elementary School principal in late summer. “The concept of community schools as I saw it is an extension of social services collaborating with Brooklyn Center,” she said.
The board and staff at the work session agreed they need candidates for the superintendent position with ideas to help build partnerships in the city.
Also, the candidates should know the district has a five-year plan to remove its Statutory Operating Debt and the focus to close the achievement gap.
“We want someone who has those skills and is looking for a job where they can apply them,” said Brooklyn Center High School Principal Jean Sorensen.
The board and staff planned to finalize the job criteria this week and Gundlach said the position would be posted again by Dec. 15.
The superintendent search timeline is available on the district’s website, which staff are planning to improve for candidates to view videos they have showcasing programs and student activities.
If the board selects a finalist for the superintendent position after the interviews and site visits in March, the contract would be finalized in April. The timeline lists July 1, 2013, as the start date for the new superintendent.