Board will announce finalist April 9
Members of the Crook County School Board have chosen one of the two finalists to be the next superintendent, but they do not plan to make the announcement until the Monday, April 9 school board meeting — at the latest.
"We have to make an offer, the candidate has to accept the offer, we have to be able to negotiate a contract, and then the board has to approve the contract. Right now, the plan is to announce it April 9," explained Board Chair Doug Smith. "If we're able to move fast on the work that needs to be done between now and then, we will try to expedite it."
The board will hire either Sara Johnson, the current Director of Assessment, Equity and School Improvement for the Klamath County School District, or Dandy Stevens, the assistant superintendent at Silver Falls School District.
Approximately 70 community members met the two superintendent finalists during a meet and greet at Barnes Butte Elementary on Monday evening.
"It went very, very well," Smith said of the event, noting that students, parents, district employees and Mayor Betty Roppe attended. "The results of the survey were pretty split."
Attendees were asked to fill out a survey with open-ended questions about the two finalists. Smith said most people thought both candidates were great.
The board members then entered an executive session Monday night, where they discussed who they would hire, taking in community input, and ultimately deciding to offer the job to one of the two women finalists.
Smith said the two finalists have different styles.
"One was a polished speaker, one was a little more of a technical administrator, probably stronger on curriculum and some other areas than one," Smith said. "What you have to do is match the needs of the superintendent to what you perceive the needs of the district are, and that's the board's call, and it's going to be a tough choice."
Getting to this point has been a long process, Smith pointed out.
The application screening committee initially included 20 people but dropped to 17 due to illness and other factors. Last month, that group of board members, school district staff, and community members sifted through 26 applications and came up with seven top candidates.
The board then interviewed those seven candidates and narrowed it down to their top three. One of those three finalists had a family conflict and withdrew his application, leaving Stevens and Johnson in the running.
The five school board members then went to work checking references, visiting with staff in their current districts, and even doing extensive internet searches to try to find anything that would raise any concerns.
Smith and two other board members visited the Silverton and Klamath County school districts and talked to those superintendents.
"We had our business administrator talk with each of the business administrators in each of the districts to make sure there were no concerns about budgeting or financial issues. We had our board secretary, Jan, talk to each one of their board secretaries," Smith said. "Knowing that there was absolutely not a red flag raised on either one, we brought them into the district."
Between now and early April, the board and the top candidate will work out a contract and complete the necessary legal work. Smith said he is open to the idea of holding a special board meeting if they're able to finish the necessary work before April 9.
"Hiring a new superintendent who we hope has a range of seven to 10 years in the district is the most important thing that the school board does," Smith said.