Board approved salary range of $130K to $140K to increase appeal of open position

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Consultants Greg McKenzie and Mike Taylor from NextUp Leadership met with the Scappoose School District board of directors on Monday, Nov. 13 to discuss qualification criteria and a salary range to start recruiting applicants to fill the superintendent role. McKenzie and Taylor met with stakeholders in October to determine qualification criteria for the position.The Scappoose School District board of directors approved criteria that will be used to recruit a new superintendent, including a salary range increase for the position.

During a school board meeting Monday, Nov. 13, the board voted 5 to 0 to advertise a salary range of $130,000 to $140,000 for the job. Previously the superintendent earned a salary of $127,000.

Board members Will Kessi and Jim Hoag were absent.

Consultants Greg McKenzie and Mike Taylor from NextUp Leadership, who were hired by the school district over the summer to help with the superintendent search, told the board salary increase would make the job more competitive and appealing to a wider pool of applicants.

The salary range would make the position attractive to superintendents in smaller districts looking to move up, or possibly deputy superintendents from larger districts who would be making close to that salary already, McKenzie explained.

Board Chair Phil Lager acknowledged the salary increase as something that needed to happen.

"I think it's time to start moving it up," Lager said, adding that he was used to previous superintendents freezing their salary. "But when you look at what the superintendent in St. Helens is making, maybe it is time to start moving it back up."

A list of comparative salaries complied by the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators puts Scappoose's advertised salary in the middle for similarly sized school districts. The same is true for nearby districts. In St. Helens, the superintendent earns a salary of $141,000, and in Rainier the superintendent earns $131,000.

Board members Lisa Maloney and Michelle Graham described the range as reasonable.

Board member Angela Schillereff asked if the district's budget could support the increase. Finance Director Mitch Neilson explained that if the board decided to increase the salary, the increase would be worked into the 2018-19 fiscal year and would be part of the regular budgeting process in the spring.

In addition to the salary range, the school board also approved a listing of superintendent qualifications.

McKenzie and Taylor spent a month meeting with stakeholder groups like teachers, school staff, administrators, parents and community members to gather feedback on qualifications the new superintendent should possess. In addition to personal interviews and group forums, an electronic survey was posted online for two weeks in early October. The duo collected feedback from more than 200 stakeholders. During Monday's meeting, the board opened the floor to public comment, but no comments were made.

The results of those interviews and surveys allowed the consultants to pull out ideas and themes about what the community valued, McKenzie explained.

Notable qualification criteria include being an effective communicator, community-oriented, innovative, open-minded, collaborative and accountable.

The school board is planning to advertise for the superintendent position in December and will begin interviewing applicants in March, according to a calendar approved by the school board in September.