Superintendent search heats up

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MINDEN -- School administrators aren't much different than students when it comes to waiting to the last minute to finish a project, said a "headhunter" leading Douglas County's search for its next superintendent.

The application deadline for superintendent applications is Monday, said Don Helms of the 4Administrators search firm. Of about 60 prospective candidates, 10 have submitted applications.

"I'll be inundated next week," he said from his Placerville, Calif., home-based office. "I'm getting more and more calls."

Helms said Thursday that Douglas County's search to replace former Superintendent Pendery Clark has prompted calls from possible candidates located throughout the United States and abroad, including Thailand.

Helping garner interest in the vacant post, filled currently by interim Superintendent John Soderman, is a minimum $100,000 salary that is negotiable. School board members approved the figure in December.

The salary, which is about $8,000 higher than what Clark earned, was approved by a 4-2 vote and has been criticized by the teachers' association for not being part of a districtwide pay increase.

"The salary range is high enough that we're getting some interest," Helms said. "The market is such that the salaries are going up very high all over the country," he said. "Fewer people want to do the job."

About 60 packets containing brochures and applications were sent to likely candidates, Helms said.

By the end of February, Helms will prepare a list of the four top candidates to present to school trustees. If none is selected, Helms will present a second list of four applicants.

Also applicants are not only interviewed and screened by Helms, but some job hunters have spent up to an hour quizzing Helms about Douglas County schools.

"We're recruiting for (Douglas County), but the district has to recruit for itself" because good candidates will have more than one job opportunity, he said.

There are far more open jobs than candidates for superintendent positions, Helms said.

Helms has talked to potential applicants from Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas and Washington.

Likely applicants are from school districts ranging in size from a few hundred pupils to a 50,000-student district.

Helms said candidates frequently ask headhunters about other openings.

"They're shopping around," he said. "They don't just ask you about this one job.


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