Philomath School District building
Philomath School District (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The Philomath School Board took the first step toward launching a search for a permanent school superintendent during its Nov. 16 meeting. The board hired the Oregon School Boards Association to survey the public about what qualities and qualifications they want to see in their next superintendent.

The OSBA’s Sarah Herb will serve as the lead consultant for the survey — known as Q-and-Qs in education-hiring lingo — with Steve Kelley, director of Board Development and Executive Searches, providing support, if needed.

Philomath Elementary and Blodgett School Principal Susan Halliday was hired as the interim superintendent following the late summer departure of Buzz Brazeau, who had also been serving in an interim capacity after the last permanent superintendent, Melissa Goff, left the district in 2019.

The board reviewed a draft timeline that Herb had prepared. It was suggested that the survey launch on Nov. 30 and run for two weeks.

“We usually get really great responses and a lot of interest in the survey,” Herb said. “That will give us the data to compile and identify the qualities and qualifications.”

Board chair Shelley Niemann suggested a Dec. 14 special meeting to hear results of the survey and take actions that would be required to move the process forward, although the board did not finalize any meeting date that evening.

At the December meeting, Herb would talk to the board about a salary range to include in the job posting and whether or not to organize a screening committee and if so, settle on dates to provide them with training.

Herb and the board did discuss shortening the recommended time for advertising the job opening. Herb had suggested an eight-week posting period, but the board decided to shorten it to six weeks.

“The longer posting period — I haven’t seen in the past where that necessarily translates to better candidates, just more of them,” board member Jim Kildea said, who earlier had said that more job candidates just means more work.

Herb suggested that the job posting date of Dec. 23 remain intact.

“We like to open in December because during that Christmas break, administrators have a minute to breathe and maybe they can start looking at what’s out there,” Herb said.

The board also opted to expand the period for screening applications from one to two weeks. Herb planned to make calendar revisions and send an updated version to board members.

The school board’s vote only hired OSBA specifically to do the survey; no final decision was made on them overseeing the search. If the board does hire the OSBA, the cost of the survey would be included in the full package’s cost but if not, there would be a charge for the couple of hours of work that’s required to compile survey results.

Early in the discussion, Herb outlined the requirements that must be met for school boards to go into executive session to review applications and discuss candidates.

Those requirements include officially declaring a vacancy for the position, adopting a search process (such as the calendar), soliciting input from the community (through the survey) and adoption of agreed-upon Q-and-Qs for the position.

The proposed search calendar shows that the superintendent would be hired in April, followed by a transition period and the official start date on July 1.