District approves road map for superintendent search process

@Photo credit:R.J. Marx photo/Seaside Signal
@Photo caption:Search consultant Greg McKenzie of NextUp Leadership at Seaside High School.

Seaside School District staff, administrators, student leaders and community members have high expectations for the superintendent who will take over when Doug Dougherty retires at the end of this school year. They hope the person will have leadership qualities, excellent communication skills and a genuine concern for student success and well-being.

During a meeting Feb. 16, the board of directors set a road map for the superintendent search process, including a search calendar, advertising budget and candidate qualifications. Members also officially declared the position vacant, effective July 1.

The district plans to accept applications from about Feb. 22 to March 18. The board then will review and screen applicants and hold interviews, with the goal of hiring someone by the end of April and announcing the decision at the May 17 board meeting.

The board also approved a salary range of $118,000 to $128,000 for the new superintendent.

To get input from stakeholders about desired qualities for the new superintendent, the district hosted a series of meetings Feb. 9 with district employees, teachers, administrators, student leaders, parents and community members. The meetings were facilitated by Greg McKenzie, a search consultant from NextUp Leadership, based in West Linn.

The community meeting was poorly attended, with only a single person present, though three school board members showed up to observe. McKenzie said more people opt to share their opinions online, not just in Seaside but in other districts, as well. In general, people show up in person more often if “there is a controversy going on” in the district, McKenzie said.

However, he added, “We’re getting very good participation on the survey.” The survey ran from Feb. 1 to 12, so consultants could prepare a report for the board meeting. Overall, about 140 people participated in one form or another.

After reviewing the information collected from the meetings and survey, consultants recommended criteria, a profile and desired characteristics for use in the superintendent search. McKenzie said they were “really looking for the common threads” from the input they received.

Responders’ descriptions of the district and area included: a close-knit community on the beautiful Oregon coast; a small, friendly town working together for its schools; and a collaborative work environment. They also mentioned the district’s high-quality, dedicated staff, administrators and school board; school and community partnerships with the hospital, local government and businesses; and that there have been only three superintendents since the district was formed in 1967.

Steven Blakesley, of Arch Cape, a health promotion specialist for Clatsop County who attended the community meeting, said while he feels there are more positives than negatives in the district, the new superintendent could improve a few aspects. He would like the new superintendent to lead the district in gathering data on students’ health and wellbeing for the county’s Public Health Department; have the ability to work with the community as a whole and understand the interconnectivity of services for students; and support a strategic plan around curriculum.

Board member Hugh Stelson said another important leadership skill is familiarity with capital improvements and experience overseeing school construction.

Although Seaside is a “stepping stone-sized district,” McKenzie said, the consultants want to help the district find someone who will stay for a long time.

“We try really hard to find the right fit, and not the right resume,” he said.

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