ARLINGTON -- The Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union has started the process of screening applicants in the search for its next superintendent.
The screening committee, which met Jan. 8, will review applicants with the goal of eventually putting forth between one and four viable candidates to the school board. The BVSU board has been looking for a new superintendent since it was announced that current superintendent Karen Gallese's contract would not be renewed for the 2014-2015 school year in late October.
Bill Miles, of the Vermont School Board Association, is facilitating the committee.
"I've done this, superintendent selection, a lot, and I've been doing a lot of recruiting," said Miles. "We're going to have a lot of fun actually," he said "We'll have some laughs, we'll have some good times, and I think you'll enjoy it."
He continued, "By definition, you are a screening committee, not a selection committee. We are to screen and provide two to three good, viable candidates to the SU board for their final selection."
According to Miles, 11 candidates have applied for the position, which is similar to the number of candidates other school systems who are working through the VSBA have. Miles also noted that many of these school systems would be making decisions at around the same time as the BVSU, meaning that BVSU will have to speed up their timeline, lest their preferred candidate should be hired by one of the other systems.
"I want to have a new superintendent signed, sealed, and delivered by March 1," said Miles. In order to make that deadline, the committee will meet again on Jan. 22 to review the candidates, perform interviews during the month of February, and present the candidates to the school board by the end of that month.
The deadline for applications is Jan. 20, and Miles hopes to have a pool of about 20 candidates for the committee to review by that time. The committee is using the website SchoolSpring.com, which bills itself as "the Employment Source for Educators," to aid in their search. The candidates have submitted their information to SchoolSpring, which organizes their résumé, transcript, references, and the other pieces of their application. The committee will then rank their candidates on the site, and Miles will present them with the results of everyone's individual rankings.
"I predict that there will be low numbers and high numbers. You'll like some people, and other people you'll think, gee, that's why Bill calls them perennial candidates. That's the way I see the 11 right now. I see three or four that I personally have high interest in. I see others that are on every other [school system's] list, and there's a reason they're on every other list. I think it will actually be fairly easy," said Miles.
About the candidates who have already applied, Miles said, "I can't say I'm pessimistic, but I'm not officially optimistic." He suggested that once the committee begins looking at the candidates, they would see that some don't really meet the requirements for the position as well as others.
Miles also explained the interview process to the committee. By law, he said, the committee is required to ask the same questions to each candidate. "You've really got to remember this, because if you get to the third interview and you think ‘Jeez, I really wish I'd asked ' uh-uh, you can't. Good thought, but you should have thought of that at the first interview, because if you ask a question extemporaneously on the first interview, then you've got to ask it [to all the other candidates]."
As clarification on that point, Miles explained, "If I know that you worked in Massachusetts, for example, and you were one of the candidates, I couldn't say to you, ‘Tell us about the similarities between Massachusetts schools and Vermont schools,' I couldn't ask that of you and not ask that from everybody else."
Toward the end of the meeting, Miles asked the members of the screening committee to tell him the things they were looking for in a superintendent. "They should have a strong understanding of the jobs of those around them," said committee head Celeste Keel.
"Some one who can be a resource for our administrators," said one. For another, the most important quality was, "somebody who understands people, and how to develop relationships."