At a special meeting Dec. 20, the Hutchinson School Board approved the first steps in a process to find a new superintendent.

Board members agreed to work with School Exec Connect, a national search and consulting firm that specializes in finding leaders for schools. Board Chair JoEllen Kimball said other firms offering consultation at a similar price had been considered. Board members of other school boards have spoken favorably of School Exec Connect, according to Kimball.

“It’s one that has done a lot of school districts in our area, in Minnesota, in the Midwest,” she said.

The firm is headquartered in Oak Park, Illinois, but has staff in the Twin Cities that would work with Hutchinson Public Schools.

Daron VanderHeiden, who has been with the district since 1994, served as superintendent for the past 16 years. He announced this month he will retire at the end of the school year. Kimball said the board hopes to have someone in place before VanderHeiden leaves.

“We’re still going to be doing a lot of work ourselves, deciding what kind of superintendent we want,” she said.