West Ottawa looking for firm to aid superintendent search

The West Ottawa Public Schools Board of Education during a June 2019 meeting. The board is currently seeking a firm to aid in the search for a new superintendent.

The West Ottawa Public Schools Board of Education put out a request for proposals for a search firm to aid in the search for a new superintendent.

PARK TWP. — West Ottawa Public Schools is looking for a search firm to assist in the search for a new superintendent.

The district put out a request for proposals (RFP) for a search form consultant earlier this week and the Board of Education held a study session Thursday night, Sept. 10, to receive a presentation from the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) regarding a superintendent search.

West Ottawa is looking for a new leader after current superintendent Tom Martin announced in late August that he plans to retire effective Jan. 1, 2021.

The RFP, which is posted on the district website, states that the board intends to select a search firm during a special meeting Oct. 5 and hopes to hire a new superintendent by Feb. 1.

During a work session meeting Thursday, the board heard a presentation from Jay Bennett, assistant director of executive search services for MASB. Bennett advised the board on what they should expect from a search consultant and provided recommendations for several steps in the process.

Bennett told the board that a typical search process will take a little over three months.

“The search process is generally around a 13- to 14-week process,” he said. “You’ll find that the firms will be generally agreeable to abbreviating this or extending it based on your preferences.

“Usually weeks one through three are for preparation, weeks four through 10 are for recruitment, weeks 11 and 12 are the interviews and then making the decision right around that 13th week.”

He also advised the board to vet any internal candidates before opening a full search. Bennett said that having internal candidates in the pool during a full search can deter outside applicants because they may feel the internal candidate has an “inside track” to the position. He also said the board should avoid “courtesy interviews” for internal candidates that the board doesn’t plan to consider for the job.

The board was advised to conduct two rounds of public interviews after narrowing down the candidate pool. Bennett suggested having five to seven candidates in for the first round of interviews before inviting the top two candidates back for a second round.

Some board members expressed a desire to move three candidates to a final round of interviews rather than two to prevent a situation where one could back out and leave the board stuck with one option.

Bennett said moving three candidates to a final interview is fine as long as each is a strong candidate and not a back up plan.

“If you have three legitimate candidates and you want to see each of those three in a second round, then bring all three forward,” he said. “I just want to make sure that anyone you bring forward into the second round is someone that you’re ready to hand the keys to.”

The board plans to review proposals from search firms at its meeting Monday, Sept. 28, before inviting finalists back to present Monday, Oct. 5.

Source: https://www.hollandsentinel.com/news/20200912/west-ottawa-looking-for-firm-to-aid-superintendent-search