HJ/EDEnterprise Dispatch, Dec. 19, 2005

Supt. Hainlen set to leave D-C

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

The Dassel-Cokato School Board met Monday for a special meeting to discuss the hiring process for a new superintendent.

Superintendent Don Hainlen “informed the board that he will not be signing another contract,” according to Board Chairman Kevin Dahlman.

Bob Lowe from the Minnesota School Board Association and Sandy Gundlach from the National School Board Association spoke about the necessary actions the board must take in the search and hiring process.

Lowe suggested the board set a search budget and to determine whether or not it would use a consulting firm to help with the search.

Unfortunately, superintendents are getting harder to find, Lowe continued. “There’s not many out there who want to do it.” Other factors are, there’s not as many qualified candidates, changes in society where families don’t move around as much. There is no tenure and the contracts are shorter, as well.

There are between 60 and 70 superintendent positions open a year, according to Lowe. This makes it difficult when there is a smaller pool of qualified candidates to choose from.

Then a timeline must be set for the July 1 term. Historically, the position has been filled by May or June, Lowe said. It’s been a four-to- six month process.

“You want to take as much time as you need to find the right person,” Gundlach said.

The process includes announcing a vacancy, determining who will be involved in the selection process, communicating to the public, and hiring the most suitable candidate.

The board decided that they would handle the search process internally without the need of a consulting firm.

Also, they will be posting the job immediately on education web sites including the MSPA, MASA, ED Post, Enterprise Dispatch, and the district’s web site.

The deadline for applicants will be Jan. 31 and the interview process will begin in February.

Possible mail-in ballot

Board members, staff and public discussed why the levy failed this past fall. Some said it was a lack of information given to the public on the effects the levy would pose if not passed.

There may have been a confusion of the two questions on the ballot in which the first question was to renew the already existing levy and the second was for the passing of a new levy referendum.

“The need (for the levy) doesn’t go away just because it was turned down,” Dahlman said.

“We need an active community group,” said board member Cary Linder.

The board discussed a mail-in ballot to take place in the spring. It posed the question if spring was too soon for another election and if it would be better to wait until the next election in November. The board is determining if April would be a good month.

The board is struggling with the a budget cut of $400,000 since the levy was not passed.

“I don’t think April is too soon...it’s tough to cut $400,000,” Assistant Principal Mark Herman said.

“The public needs to know how the school will be affected by making the cuts,” said community member Bob Gash.

Board member Denise Ertl brought forth the idea that a mail-in ballot shouldn’t overlap too much with the hiring of a superintendent.

The matter will be discussed further in the upcoming board meetings.

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