Board of Education prepares for superintendent interviews

Board members review information to create interview questions and expectations

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By Rachel Schulte

At the beginning of the Board of Education meeting, interim superintendent Dr. Ron Wimmer presents the rating sheet that each Board member will complete for each person that has applied for the superintendent job. "What I will be looking for is their vision, ability to create new programming and new opportunities for students and make sure that they can relate to all of the people that they are going to be working with," Wimmer said. "[Which] is the community, the students, the administration and the Board, so person traits are the most important to me."

Laken Wagner, JAG student life editor

The Board of Education discussed beginning the process of interviewing 25 superintendent candidates at a special meeting on Thursday, Jan 28.

The chosen superintendent will begin work on or before Friday, July 1, when interim superintendent Dr. Ron Wimmer’s contract expires. The Board hired Wimmer for this school year after former superintendent Dr. Doug Sumner resigned effective July 1, 2015.

Assistant superintendent Alvie Cater presents new information to the board members.

By Rachel Schulte
Assistant superintendent of administrative and educational services Alvie Cater presents new information to the Board members.

During the meeting, assistant superintendent of administrative and educational services Alvie Cater presented a slideshow including five problematic characteristics seen within district superintendents in the past. These characteristics included personal function, communication, Board members acting as individuals, financial policies and policy formation.

The Board then created questions regarding these characteristic in order to filter out the candidates who may have one or more of the unwanted qualities during the upcoming interview process.

Before the presentation began, Wimmer gave the Board advice on questions.

“Do not think about the team, think about yourself,” Wimmer said to the Board. “Because, even though we function as a team, you are an individual and a superintendent needs to be able to interact with you as individuals.”

As interim superintendent and former Olathe school district superintendent, Wimmer openly gave his opinion to the rest of the Board to guide them toward a good decision.

“The most important of [the characteristics] is the ability to have a solid relationship between the Board and the superintendent. If there’s no trust, there’s no relationship, and the foundation of every relationship is based upon mutual trust,” Wimmer said. “If you don’t have a good relationship between the Board and the superintendent, then you have the turmoil that we talked about during this meeting, which is why this is so important.”

Like the rest of the Board, Board member Bill Fletcher appreciated Wimmer’s input and took it to heart.

“We all could ask our questions and think we know a lot, but the key thing is that they know the staff,” Fletcher said to the Board. “Let them interview the candidates and ask the references and they could blow up our ears, but I would first listen to [Wimmer] for his top three candidates and go with his recommendations above all.”

While the main focus of the meeting was the characteristics, the opinion on candidate’s education was also a discussed topic.

Board of Education member Angela Handy listens to Dr. Ron Wimmer.

By Rachel Schulte
Board member Angela Handy listens to interim superintendent Dr. Ron Wimmer.

“I agree with a preferred [doctoral degree], not required,” Board member Rachele Zade said. “In my hiring experience, I’ve been pleasantly surprised during an interview because they were so much better than what their paper said, and if I had crossed them off the list based off of what I read, we would have lost an amazing employee.”

By the end of the meeting, the Board had successfully generated general questions to use during the interview process.

“This is our leader. This is a little nerve-wracking, of course, because I knew Dr. Sumner and he was amazing,” Zade said. “He represented us very well and the teachers and everyone in the community communicated really well with him. And then Dr. Wimmer comes back, and you can’t really find any better than him, so it is nerve-wracking because we have to find somebody to fill these shoes, and that’s relying on us. And if nobody likes them, then it’s all on us.”

The Board will continue to evaluate the applications over the next six weeks to select the new superintendent.

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