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June targeted for selection of new schools chief

'Negative' content questioned in Kyrene recruiting brochure

By Jonathan J. Cooper

April 15, 2006

The timetable for selecting a new Kyrene School District superintendent will be “aggressive,” a consultant hired to assist in the process told the Governing Board this week.

That timetable would give board members a list of candidates by the end of May and a final selection by mid- to late June, said Lee Pasquarella of Cascade Consulting Group. The firm already has received about 20 applications for the position from its preliminary advertising.

The board authorized Pasquarella to spend up to $1,200 for additional advertising and discussed with the consultant the selection process going forward and his draft recruitment brochure.

At issue were the candidate qualifications, the enumeration of challenges facing the district, and how the document should be used in the selection process.

“I think there are some things in here that are inappropriately negative,” said Board Member Sue Knudson.

Board Member Mitzi Epstein defended the document, calling the consultant’s task in developing it a “mildly Herculean effort.”

“I’m sure you got comments from the extremes,” Epstein said.

Several board members said the document should not provide superfluous detail about the district to prospective superintendents, saying a candidate on par with Kyrene standards should be willing to do independent research.

“I would expect them to get online if they’re really interested in the school district,” Knudson said. “If somebody couldn’t figure that out on their own, I don’t think they have the kind of savvy we’re looking for.”

The board also discussed the flow of information between the consultant and the school board. Board Member Rae Waters requested to see all of the documents related to the search, including application packets and notes from focus groups held last month with parents, teachers, administrators and community members.

Pasquarella, who already has supplied the board with a summary of the discussion at focus group meetings, expressed concern with providing detailed notes from those meetings, saying he promised the attendees confidentiality.

Aside from the approval for the consultant to spend more advertising money, the board made no decisions. The members agreed to schedule a special meeting to discuss their issues in greater detail before giving further direction to the consultant.

At that meeting, the board members will review the draft brochure, Board President Rich Zawtocki said after Tuesday’s meeting. They will focus on the characterization of the district’s challenges as well as the job’s experience and education requirements. They will also discuss when in the recruitment process the brochure should be disseminated to candidates.

“We’ll work those kinds of details out and get back to (Pasquarella) so we can continue on,” Zawtocki said.

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