Rossford may delay search for superintendent
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Tuesday, 06 March 2012 12:17
ROSSFORD -Â After hearing three proposals by people interested in helping the district find a new superintendent, members of the Board of Education opined that they'd like to keep the guy they have for at least a little longer.
Bill McFarland was named interim in August following the resignation by Dr. Susan Lang, who took another post.
The board heard presentations from: Cheryl Ryan of the Ohio School Boards Association; Sandra Frisch and Robert Pfefferle, of Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West; and John Granger, a Bowling Green State University administrator acting as an independent consultant.
Granger told them they were not too late to start a search for a superintendent to start Aug. 1, but the time was getting short.
And he even introduced the possibility of keeping McFarland on longer. "You have a nice option with Bill," he said.
Board President Dawn Burks suggested asking McFarland to commit to staying another year or even two to allow the board to begin its search in earnest next January, the prime time for seeking a superintendent.
McFarland did not arrive at the meeting until the presentations were over and the discussion of his extension was well under way.
Burks said she was under the impression he would be amenable to staying as long as two more years, though she was quick to add, "I don't want to speak for him."
Board member Bev Koch also backed that idea. With the district facing critical decisions in the next year or so, it may be better to have an interim superintendent make those cuts and give a new permanent leader a fresh start.
Board member Jackie Brown, however, said, with so much going on there would be an advantage to getting a new permanent superintendent in place.
She said the financial restraints facing Rossford were unprecedented.
"What we have coming down the pike, I'm not sure I want to put this on a new superintendent," Koch said.
Both other board members, Doug Miller and Ken Sutter said that having McFarland stay longer would be advantageous.
When McFarland arrived mid-discussion, he seemed less enthusiastic about the prospect.
The board went into executive session to discuss personnel, including the possibility of extending McFarland's contract.
This morning Burks said McFarland is considering the possibility. If he stayed, she said it would be "short term," not more than a year.
All those seeking to help the district with its superintendent search agreed hiring a superintendent is one of the board's most important decisions.
Cheryl Ryan of OSBA said that her organization, which would charge $6,900, would take direction from the board and guarantee its search.
OSBA would also offer a leadership workshop to help the new superintendent become integrated into the community.
She said she would screen and rank the applications, but the board would see all of the applicants. "We won't eliminate any, that's your job."
Ryan also emphasized the role of the community in selecting a new school leader.
"We believe it is the board's job to make the decision ... but we believe community feedback is important to the process."
Granger also said having community input can be valuable. He did caution that giving the community a say can put a board in a "vulnerable" position if the community really likes one candidate, but the board strongly favors another.
Granger, who is coordinator of Cohort Leadership Academies in BGSU's School of Educational Foundations, Leadership & Policy, said if selected he would work exclusively with Rossford. "I would like to become a temporary fixture at the board office."
All applications would be sent and maintained at the school district, and he would ask McFarland to help with the screening.
His fee would be $6,000, though an ad on the OSBA website would be an added $200, and that could be paid directly by the district to OSBA.
"There are a number of people voting for you to post this," Granger said. "You have a lot going for you in Rossford that can be explained to top quality candidates."
Granger said he would want the ability to reach out to potential candidates and encourage them to apply.
Frisch, from the ESC of Lake Erie West, said that there's been a decline in the pool of superintendent candidates.
That's in part because of economic concerns, with administrators unsure if they can sell their homes if they move.
Pfefferle also said there are fewer administrators wanting to take on the duties of being a superintendent.
Still he advised against a national search. "In our opinion a national search turns up few candidates."
Even if there is an educator who left Ohio and now wants to return, they will probably find the opening through other avenues.
The ESC would charge a basic fee of $3,500 with other charges added depending on what work the Rossford board requests.