The Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School Board met in special session Monday evening to select an executive search service and to review applications from a half-dozen interim superintendent candidates.
After hearing videoconference presentations from three consultants, the board decided to contract with the Minnesota School Boards Association to help find a new district superintendent. As several board members put it, ACGC has worked with MSBA, a statewide school board advocacy group, in previous searches, and recently completed a strategic plan with their consultant. Several board members expressed satisfaction with past services. The cost of a full package of search services from MSBA is $7,600.
Nevertheless, the board was intrigued with the offerings of the firms that were not selected. One firm, SchoolIQ, was competitive in price and is staffed by former school superintendents and business agents. A smaller consulting firm appeared to have a more thorough vetting and community input process, but the price for its level of service was significantly higher; it also appeared to have less experience with school executives.
School IQ is a subsidiary of the consulting firm SiteLogiq which recently hired the district’s current superintendent Nels Onstad to assist the firm with school facility development consultation.
“Sitelogiq is an organization that works with facility projects, primarily for schools,” Onstad explained. “Its Minnesota headquarters are in White Bear Lake.”
After leaving ACGC at the end of October, Onstad plans to work remotely for SiteLogiq and also spend time on the road as a liaison between the firm and the districts it serves.
Board members expressed hope that a new superintendent could be in place by the end of the current school year. In the meantime, they plan to appoint an interim superintendent.
The board reviewed applications for the interim superintendent appointment. School officials noted that the applicants (identified by number, not by name) fell into three categories:
- a retired superintendent who wants to work part time until a new superintendent can be found;
- school principals and directors with no experience as superintendents who want to gain experience by taking an interim position (a few appear interested in also applying for the permanent position); and
- an experienced superintendent who would like to share the superintendent’s position with another district.
Board members and the building principals discussed what is needed in an interim position to finish out the school year. Consensus was against having an inexperienced person try to take on the role of keeping the district afloat and moving forward.
“A person familiar with the district would be much more preferential, even on a part-time basis,” said Middle School/High School Principal Robin Wall. Several board members agreed.
Although no final decision was made on an interim, Board Chair Megan Morrison directed the negotiations committee to meet with one experienced candidate who is acquainted with the district to determine potential terms of service. If consensus can be reached, Morrison expressed hope the committee could make a recommendation to the board about an interim appointment at the regular board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25.
The school principals announced that receptions will be conducted in both school buildings to bid farewell to Onstad. The Grove City event will be 7:20 a.m. Oct. 27; the Atwater event will be 7:30 a.m. Oct. 28.