‘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.

Advertisements

School board faces tough call on interim leadership proposal

The Monroe County Community School Corp. board is in a tough spot. It needs to decide – quickly – whether to accept or reject a proposal by the corporation’s 25-member instructional leadership team to serve together as interim leader of the district while the board searches for a new superintendent.

The alternative is to appoint an interim superintendent until a long-term successor is chosen for Superintendent J.T. Coopman, who will retire Dec. 31.

The school board will discuss the team leadership idea Tuesday in a closed executive session. The next regular public meeting at which it could vote on the decision is Dec. 14.

The MCCSC instructional team, consisting of principals and the directors of elementary and secondary education, made the case for its leadership proposal last week at a school board work session. The unity and enthusiasm shown by the group were remarkable – all 25 people spoke and all endorsed the proposal. Members attributed the idea and their shared sense of purpose to the Professional Learning Communities model that the MCCSC adopted under Coopman.

School board members said they fully support Professional Learning Communities, but several expressed skepticism about leadership by committee. If they reject the proposal, it may be a challenge to do so in a way that doesn’t appear to be a slap at the PLC process.

The Nov. 30 school board work session was recorded by Monroe County’s Community Access Television Services. It will be re-broadcast several times this week on local cable channel 14. It can also be viewed online at catstv.net. It makes for surprisingly compelling TV.

In fact, anyone with strong interest in local schools and about five hours to spare could pair the work session with Saturday’s Support Our Schools forum, also being shown by CATS. The forum included insightful comments by former MCCSC officials, current city and county officials, parents and community members on a wide range of issues related to local schools.

More executive sessions posted for MCCSC board

The Monroe County Community School Corp. board has scheduled not one, not two, but three closed executive sessions next week:

— Monday at 9 a.m. for new board members to be trained in their role as public officials by a trainer from the Indiana School Boards Association.
— Tuesday at 5 p.m. to receive information about or interview candidates for employment.
— Wednesday at 5 p.m. to consider a job performance evaluation of an employee.

The board will also have a work session at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the MCCSC Administration Building to discuss the process for selecting a superintendent to succeed J.T. Coopman, who is retiring at the end of this year. Work sessions are open to the public, but there’s typically no public comment.

At Tuesday’s executive session, the board will apparently “receive information about” options for temporary leadership until a superintendent is hired: i.e., whether to name an interim superintendent or to accept a proposal for an executive council of MCCSC administrators to take charge.

“There will be no vote (Tuesday) as it is illegal to vote in exec. meetings,” board president Jeannine Butler said by e-mail.

MCCSC closed meetings: How much ‘training’ does a board need?

‘Tis the season to be thankful, so let’s start by saying the Monroe County Community School Corp. did a good job of involving the public when it searched for a new superintendent in 2008.

The board got public input on what qualities to look for in a school leader. When the search was down to three finalists, the board made their names public and had all three take part in community forums. It was a good process with a good outcome: the appointment of J.T. Coopman as superintendent.

Now Coopman is retiring and the process starts again. And some board members are bristling at suggestions that the early stages should be more open – and comply with the Indiana Open Door Law.

After School Matters questioned plans for a closed-door executive session on Tuesday, MCCSC board member Valerie Merriam posted to the Support Our Schools community forum that “the board does, indeed, know what can and cannot be discussed during executive session” and insisted concern about an illegal meeting was “the misconception of the blogger.”

“I want to assure everybody that nothing was discussed at the executive committee meeting that shouldn’t have been discussed,” Merriam said at Tuesday night’s public school board meeting, a few hours after the closed meeting.

Board member Jim Muehling said people who are worried about transparency should “seek help, because they are clueless.” Continue reading