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Representatives from around the district will help whittle down candidates for the post

The Newberg School District board of directors approved a screening committee Jan. 14 to process applications for its open superintendent position. As the district moves forward in the search for a permanent superintendent, the committee — comprised of individuals who work in the district – will play a key role.

A total of 16 members – two administrators, four teachers, three classified staff, two students and five other community members – were announced at the board meeting.

The appointees include administrators Troy Fisher and Casey Petrie; teachers Jennifer Schneider, Drew Gallagher, Michelle Jones and Debbie Tofte; classified staff members Sandi Byers, Maria Fuhrmann and Helen LeFebvre; community members Kellie Butcher, Rob Federwisch, Don Griswold, AJ Schwanz and Kim Stewart; and students Alyssa Johnson and Capri Wheaton.

According to board chairman Bob Woodruff, having a variety of voices on the committee will be crucial in deciding which candidates stand out in the superintendent search.

"The screening committee is going to help us review and screen the superintendent applications that we receive," he said. "They're working with the consultant, who is doing the advertising of the position. They are already getting interest, but I'm not sure if they've gotten formal applications yet."

In December, NextUp Leadership – the consultant hired by the district – had established roughly 32,000 potential candidates on a national level. This did not reflect the number of applications the firm will receive, nor did the board expect a number of applicants anywhere near that.

The search is national, however, and it includes interim superintendent Joe Morelock among the candidates. NextUp will process however many applications it receives and submit a reduced number to the screening committee for its final say.

There will be a public meeting some time in February, according to Woodruff, during which the screening committee will receive training from NextUp on how to properly vet and narrow down the applications. Once that happens, the 16-person committee will meet in executive session and begin reviewing the top candidates.

According to Woodruff, NextUp's transparency and communication throughout the process has made it easier for the board. He said the board wanted to make the process as in-depth as possible in order to better serve the district community and find the right person for the job.

"They've been great to work with," Woodruff said of NextUp. "Any time we need information, they get back to us quickly. Every time we come to a different milestone, they come and present to the board."

After the screening committee whittles it down to an "appropriate" number of candidates, Woodruff said there will be opportunities for the board and public to ask questions of the candidates in public session. The board will then deliberate and decide whom to offer the job to by the end of the school year.

It is a lengthy process to hire a superintendent, but necessarily thorough, Woodruff said.

"We look forward to the work of the committee in helping find our best candidates," he said. "The reason this process is so thorough is that we wanted to give everyone in our community that stability of having the best person for the job."

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