Board hires firm for superintendent search

Illinois-based company chosen over two other groups

— The first task in finding a new superintendent is complete.

At their monthly meeting Thursday night, Moffat County School Board members voted unanimously to hire Hazard Young, Attea & Associates, Ltd. to help find the district's next superintendent.

The Illinois-based company will help the School Board find a replacement for current Superintendent Pete Bergmann, who is scheduled to retire at the end of the 2008-09 school year.

Hazard's plan for the search process includes soliciting community input and searching for candidates through a network extending into other states.

Five school board members present at an afternoon workshop heard presentations from two other groups specializing in superintendent searches: Iowa-based Ray and Associates and the Colorado Association of School Boards.

The three groups each offered to solicit feedback from focus groups, or panels of district staff, administrators and community members as part of the search process.

And all fit within the district's $20,000 budget for superintendent search services. Ray and Associates offered a $16,500 base fee, while and Hazard's came out to $17,000. CASB's base fee was $9,000. Additional, yet-to-be determined fees for various services applied for all three companies.

Ultimately, however, the decision came down to the firms' workloads and feedback board members received from past clients.

School Board Member Jo Ann Baxter spoke to two people in Steamboat Springs who had worked with CASB's superintendent search service in the past.

"The information I got was that CASB was not quite as organized as they would have liked," she said.

Board member Sandie Johns contacted six districts in four states, including Colorado and California, that had used the firm in the past. She was pleased by what she found.

"There were no negatives," she said. "Everyone was extremely satisfied with Hazard."

She said another school board was impressed with how Hazard helped them refine their search criteria.

The fact that the firm has a history of taking on only one search at a time was a selling point for other school board members, including Tony St. John.

The firm "would just be doing our job - just taking care of us," he said.

In contrast, Ray and Associates currently is working on another search elsewhere in the state.

Hazard Associate Ellen Bartlett said she and a fellow Colorado-based associate could be available for a preliminary meeting with the district as early as next week.

Hazard would start out by helping superintendent search committee members determine qualities they're looking for in the district's next top administrator.

Input from various groups, including district staff and community members, would also help hone the district's criteria.

Hazard would then conduct a preliminary screening on applicants, bringing search committee members "the cream of the crop," Bartlett said.

Although Hazard's fixed rate was almost twice as much as CASB's, board members were willing to pay the added cost for what they saw as a higher-quality service.

"You get what you pay for," Johns said.

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