BOE hires OSBA for superintendent search

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — The first step was taken Monday night to find a new superintendent for Sidney City Schools.

During a special meeting, the Board of Education agreed to hire the Ohio School Boards Association to assist with the search to replace Superintendent John Scheu, whose resignation is effective July 31, 2018. The contract with the OSBA will be for $7,850, which is all inclusive except for mileage.

Presentations were made by Cheryl Ryan, OSBA, and Scott Howell, Midwest Regional Educational Service Center superintendent, on how they will conduct the superintendent’s search.

Howell told the board he has been the MRESC superintendent since March 1 and had served as interim superintendent from Oct. 2 until he was hired full time. He said there would be no charge for the service as the school district is a member district of the MRESC.

“Some boards are happy to turn the whole process over to the ESC,” said Howell, who added the ESC has done superintendent searches for Fairlawn, Botkins, Hardin-Houston and Bellefontaine school districts.

He said a meeting would be held with the board to get a description of the person they want to be the next superintendent. Information would be sent out statewide to all ESC offices along with other avenues.

The ESC, he said, would collect all the applications and screen them for the board. It would investigate the resumes and the applications.

“The board sets the screening criteria,” said Howell. “The ESC would make recommendations to the board.”

He said three rounds of interviews would be set up. The first round would be with the candidates and board of education. The second round would include focus groups of community members and leaders who would meet with the candidates.

The final round would be interviews of the top candidates. He recommends the board conduct a site visit to the candidate’s current district to get a “feel of who the administrator is.”

He said the ESC can provide a list of questions for the board to narrow down to ask each candidate.

Howell said he’s never been involved with a superintendent’s search but has hired principals, teachers and classified staff members.

“I feel I know how to recruit,” said Howell.

Howell said the ideal scenario will have the new superintendent in place by July 1. There would be a two to three week period where applications are accepted with interviews to start the first part of June.

Ryan, who is the director of board and management services for the OSBA, said she has been with the OSBA for 11 years. Prior to that she served as a Hillard City Schools board of education member.

“I’ve led successful searches for superintendents,” said Ryan. Along with Ryan, there are two other full-time employees at the OSBA who work with school districts in superintendent searches.

She said the OSBA recently completed a search for a new superintendent for Bowling Green City Schools. The feedback from the board of education was positive and that it had brought the board closer.

“Our search is honest, transparent and ethical,” said Ryan. “We are looking for candidates who are open and honest. We want to give you a great leadership team with your treasurer.”

Ryan said the OSBA has been conducting superintendent searches since 1980 and have completed close to 1,000 searches.

She said the search model will be customized for Sidney City Schools requirements for every step of the process.

“I am your facilitator,” said Ryan. “This is your search.”

Ryan said she will assist with recruiting, marketing, web marketing, electronic marketing and speaking with the media.

“If a candidate has questions, they work through me,” said Ryan. “The benefit of my experience is what I can offer you. I will share all options both pros and cons. The choice is yours at all times.”

She said once a leadership profile is developed, brochures will be created and emailed all over the country.

“We do an aggressive nationwide recruitment,” said Ryan. “The board is at the center of all candidate screenings. Two former superintendents will be invited with backgrounds similar to Sidney’s and screen all the candidates. They will score them internally and all candidate information will be shared with you as a board.”

Ryan said they do not screen out any of the candidates who have applied for the position.

“We leave that up to the board,” she said. “Who you interview is your decision.”

She gave a tentative timeline for the search, which includes the planning meeting with the board and signing the contract.

“Information can be on the website even before the brochure is ready,” said Ryan.

She said she will spend a full day with focus groups in the community. Recruitment and meetings will be held with the applicants. Once the deadline day has passed, a portal will be opened on the OSBA website so the board can review all the applications.

The board will have a screening meeting with the OSBA and come to a consensus on who to talk to with an interview. The final candidates, said Ryan, will undergo an achiever evaluation, have references called and checked and other people in the applicant’s community will be contacted to see what type of person the applicant is.

The second round of interviews, said Ryan, can include community feedback.

“Some do a meet and greet with the candidates,” said Ryan. “The final step is to employ a new superintendent.”

She said the community and staff can be involved in the focus group or final interview.

“All key decisions belong to you,” said Ryan. “Community input is important. We won’t filter any information about a candidate. We will be honest with you about what we know about the candidate. This will be fair and transparent.”

If following the search, said Ryan, a candidate is not found, then the OSBA will begin another search at no charge to the district. She also said the OSBA can assist the district with an interim superintendent search if a new superintendent isn’t hired before July 31.

When asked about The Achiever evaluation, Ryan said it is composed of eight different mental aptitudes and 10 personality characteristics. It evaluates finalists against verified benchmarks and standards. It was created specifically for superintendents. The program is exclusive to OSBA in Ohio.

After both presentations, the board discussed the pros and cons of each organization.

President Bob Smith and members Chip Hix and Mandi Croft all supported using the OSBA for the search. Linda Meininger and Jason Schaffner were leaning toward the ESC, but Meininger said she would be happy with either organization.

“This is her job, to find a superintendent,” said Croft. “His (Howell) job is to be superintendent (for MRESC).”

Treasurer Mike Watkins said his only hesitation in using the ESC is the fact Howell hasn’t been involved in a superintendent search before.

“I think both can do the same thing,” said Meininger.

Hix said he liked the OSBA because of their experience, the number of staff members dedicated to the search and the achiever evaluation.

After reaching a decision to go with the OSBA, the board agreed to meet with Ryan at the conclusion of Monday night’s regular board meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. The meeting with Ryan will be held in executive session as it deals with personnel issues.

By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.