‘Focused search’ likely for MCCSC superintendent

Look for the Monroe County Community School Corp. board to conduct a quick, focused search for a new superintendent to succeed J.T. Coopman, who is retiring Dec. 31.

Ron Barnes, a search consultant and retired Indiana University professor who is advising the board, suggested a focused search at a school board work session Wednesday. And board members clearly favored the idea.

Barnes said it might be possible to name a superintendent by February or March, with the idea that he or she would transition into the job by summer. “I would say ready, fire, aim – get it going,” he said.

Under the scenario he laid out, the school board would appoint a committee of six or so members to advise it on the search. Barnes said the panel might include IU School of Education faculty, business and civic leaders, and volunteers who helped lead a recent school funding referendum campaign.

Committee members would use their networks of contacts to identify, contact and recruit prospects. The board would screen them and conduct initial interviews. Although the job has turned over frequently in recent years, Barnes said it should attract good candidates.

“We’re bringing in leadership to a school corporation where great teachers are doing their job every day and great administrators are doing their job every day,” he said.

Focus groups and possibly a public meeting could provide input on what qualities the next superintendent should possess. When three or so finalists are chosen, the board could make their names public and have them speak at public forums, as it did when it hired Coopman in 2008.

Barnes said it’s likely to take a compensation package of $200,000 a year or more to lure a leader with the experience and ability needed. “I’ve lived in this community for 16 years now, and this job can’t have training wheels on it,” he said.

He said the board may save about $40,000 by doing a focused search by itself with help from a citizen committee, rather than hiring a consulting firm to do a nationwide search.

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