Superintendent search will heat up soon

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Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 12:00 am

A huge decision will soon be left up to the Papillion-La Vista school board.

With spring’s approach, the Papillion-La Vista Board of Education will soon select the district’s next leader to replace Superintendent Rick Black.

A firm hired to assist with the search recently conducted a survey of more than 1,200 participants – including school board members, teachers, school administrators, support staff, parents, students business leaders and community members – to identify a list of traits for the board to prioritize while considering candidates.

Chief among those traits identified by the survey is that the next superintendent inspires trust, has high levels of self-confidence and optimism and models integrity. Strong communication skills and balancing listening with decision-making were also ranked high by all groups participating in the survey, according to results compiled by Ray and Associates.

With those traits in mind, district leaders are now waiting as the search firm finishes spreading the word about the vacancy. Applications must be submitted by next Wednesday.

Once the applications are received, district spokeswoman Annette Eyman said the selection process will shift into high gear.

Ray and Associates will present the candidates to the school board, who will meet in closed session to narrow down to a list of finalists. Those candidates names will be made public under state law.

Interviews are expected to be open to the public. When Black was selected in 2007, the school board first narrowed the field from five finalists to two, who were brought back for another interview.

A decision is anticipated by April 30. The new superintendent would likely start July 1 because Black’s resignation is effective June 30.

Black took the district’s reigns in 2007 from former Superintendent Harlan Metschke. During that selection process, PLSD saw 38 applications from a national search also conducted by Ray and Associates.

Before he was selected as superintendent, Black was in charge of the district’s human resources department. The next superintendent will oversee the growing district as it builds new elementary and middle schools.

The district expects to pay the next superintendent between $210,000 and $230,000 plus benefits, according to the job description circulated by the search firm. Black received a contract extension last year that increased his base salary to $213,104.

Black will not receive any retirement benefit from the school district because he did not qualify for the district’s voluntary separation program, Eyman said. However, educators and public school districts must pay into the Nebraska School Employees Retirement System, which will provide Black with a pension.

Two outgoing administrators will receive a one-time voluntary separation payment: Mary Scarborough, principal of Patriot Elementary School, and Chuck Johnston, athletic director at Papillion-La Vista High School. The buyouts, which are open to two administrators and 15 teachers each year, are intended with the goal of limiting personnel costs while controlling staff turnover.

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