Steamboat school board will use search firm to find new superintendent |

Steamboat school board will use search firm to find new superintendent

Firm tied to Colorado Association of School Boards will find both interim and permanent leader

Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Brad Meeks and Board President Katy Lee listen to teachers speak during public comment on March 28, 2022. The board will use a search firm to find the districts new leader when Meeks retires.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Following Steamboat Springs Superintendent Brad Meeks’ retirement announcement in April, the board of education decided to use a search firm to find both an interim and permanent superintendent for the district.

During a special meeting on Friday, May 13, the board selected Omaha-based McPherson & Jacobson, LLC, which works with the Colorado Association of School Boards and has consultants in the state. The firm will first work to fill the superintendent position on an interim basis for one year.

This will allow for more time to find the person who will take over the district long term, presumably in the summer of 2023. Board members said the process would include public involvement.

“I really appreciated their focus on kids,” said Board Member Chresta Brinkman, who said she had attended a session about the McPherson firm. “They were very student focused and that’s what drives finding the superintendent, which I thought was very important for us as a board.”

New board member Alissa Merage, who was sworn in just before the meeting started, abstained from voting, as she hadn’t been given the materials about the various firms.

District Human Resources Director Katie Jacobs reached out to five different firms and found each had a relatively similar process. The projected cost to conduct a search ranged from $10,000 to $28,500, depending on the firm.

McPherson has consultants on the Front Range, just completed a search for a superintendent in Summit County, and is currently working with the Garfield 16 School District to find it a new leader.

Embracing a different process, the South Routt School District just completed its own search for a new superintendent, in which they opted not to use a search firm.

“They feel proud that they own it, but it was really labor intensive,” said Board Member Kim Brack.

Brack said Hayden School District Superintendent Christy Sinner is also a consultant for the McPherson firm and she anticipated Sinner would be part of the team finding the new superintendent in Steamboat.

Board members decided that they felt the various proposals provided enough information to choose a firm without interviewing them in person. One of the benefits of a firm is that it includes a two-year guarantee if the initial hire doesn’t work out, Brack said.

Board President Katy Lee said the board isn’t required to get public comment on the initial language in a superintendent job posting, but said public input would be important throughout the process. As that could take a while, it makes sense to hire someone to fill the role for a year.

“We’re going to need the interim because I think the process is going to take too long to get somebody in permanent in time for even August,” Lee said.

Lee said she would work with Jacobs to reach out to the search firm and get the process going right away. She said the consultant would then meet with the board at its next meeting on May 23.

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