District 191 board selects superintendent search firm

After interviewing three search firms on Jan. 3, members of the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 Board of Education unanimously selected School Exec Connect to assist them in finding a new superintendent to replace Randy Clegg, who is retiring after this school year.

School Exec Connect specializes in superintendent searches for suburban and regional centers. The firm, founded in 2004, conducted more than 40 national searches last year including the Eden Prairie, West St. Paul and South Washington County school districts.

Four retired Minnesota superintendents will lead the District 191 search. They are Kenneth Dragseth, former Edina superintendent and the 2003 National Superintendent of the Year; Antoinette Johns, former superintendent in Brooklyn Center; Charles Kyte, former superintendent in Northfield and former executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators, and Robert Ostlund, former superintendent of Wayzata Public Schools.

“We will be with you every step of the way,” Dragseth told board members. He emphasized that the focus will be on finding the person who best matches the district based on a leadership profile developed through interviews with board members, focus groups with employees and community residents, and an online survey. The district will be attractive to candidates, Dragseth said, because of its larger size and the attributes it offers, such as magnet schools.

The five-phase search process will include focus groups, interviews and an online survey to determine the qualities, skills and experiences desired in a new superintendent, followed by creation of a Leadership Profile. That will occur in January and February.

The firm will publish the vacancy and use its national network to recruit candidates who best match the profile.

In February, candidates will apply online through the School Exec Connect website and will be screened. The consultants will select qualified and vetted candidates to present to the board.

In March and April,  the board will interview a slate of candidates and narrow to two or three who will be invited back for more in-depth interviews that would include feedback from staff members and residents.

The board will then select a candidate and negotiate a contract, with the new superintendent assuming duties on July 1.

The consulting fee will be $19,500, with additional expenses not to exceed $2,750. Other costs could arise for advertising and for bringing candidates in for interviews. The firm offers a two-year guarantee and will conduct a new search if the selected candidate does not work out.

The new superintendent will be the district’s ninth leader since the first, John Metcalf, began in 1955. Following him were Hugh Holloway, Robert Tschirki, Theodore Foot, Sally Bell,  James Rickabaugh, Ben Kanninen and Clegg.