School Board gathers public input in search for new superintendent

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The Churchill County School District is preparing to make its first momentous change in five years: hiring a new Superintendent by the end of April.

With incumbent Sandra Sheldon retiring in May, the district’s School Board of Trustees hired search consultant Greg McKenzie, based near Portland, Ore., to assist with the search; McKenzie met with Trustees March 7 to review application materials, recruiting timeline, and public survey results. McKenzie also has been touring the school district days prior to the meeting.

The application process for the position opened March 9 and is scheduled to close April 5.

If the timeline of the recruitment process goes as planned, the new superintendent would start their first day at CCSD July 1.

In order to recruit an ideal superintendent, McKenzie and Trustees launched an online survey for a week to collect public input. From Feb. 27 - March 3, 496 people participated in the survey, including licensed and classified staff, school board parents, students, and community members.

For a size such as Churchill County with 25,000 residents, McKenzie said the average participant number is 200 for small communities.

“This is big, especially for a district this size,” he said. “This survey helps us to find themes and common issues to find the person to look for, but not quantify.”

The online survey provided a vast multiple choice questionnaire of what locals would want in a superintendent. The survey also gave participants an opportunity to write their thoughts by answering the main question: “What should be the priorities of the school district for the next 3-5 years?”

Results from questionnaire showed different priorities from each party: school board, administrative/supervisor, licensed teachers, classified staff, parents, and community/students.

According to the survey results, the top priorities the school board envisions the new superintendent to have is fiscal responsibility, increase academic achievement and graduation rate, and is an effective communicator.

For administration, a significance to CTE program, improvement of student achievement scores, trust building, and effective communication is desired for a new superintendent.

Combining results from licensed and classified staff, both parties are hoping the new superintendent will focus on decreasing class sizes. Other top results from these parties included high quality staff, promote positive student behavior, background in teaching, high degree of integrity and committed to serving all students, as well as a passion in CTE programs.

For parents, results show an ideal superintendent would promote more courses in STEM, focus on student safety, security, bullying, and discipline.

Students and community members showed similar top results for an ideal superintendent: a figure who promotes CTE programs, positive student behavior, student safety, and effective communication.

McKenzie also interviewed individuals for two days from each category to add more to the survey results. Among the many, those results also included for a fitting superintendent to have community involvement, awareness for student mental health issues, appreciation for the county itself, stronger alternative education programs, and passionate about student diversity.

As far as the anonymous comments, many expressed to hire a superintendent within Fallon; some of the comments included, “We should have someone from our area, who understands our population & challenges, and has a commitment to Fallon,” and “Someone who has taught and has served in an administrative position is a plus,” and also, “We need a person who respects us as teachers, parents, and people.”

With these results, McKenzie compiled the CCSD superintendent application to describe the county’s culture, community, environment, a list of preferred leadership skills, and a list of qualities of a desired candidate, which trustees approved.

Trustees also approved the salary scale in the range of $135,000-$150,000, to appeal other west coast states. Mckenzie said the base may be too low and not competitive for Churchill County, with a current student population of 3,389.

Other surrounding districts, such as Carson City and Lyon, have a higher student population and are offering a higher salary range than Churchill’s proposed.

“We have no state income tax,” said Trustee Phil Pinder. “A candidate will look at the offered salary and it needs to be further explained.”

Until the interviewing process of candidates, tentatively scheduled for early to mid April, McKenzie is spending the next three to four weeks collaborating with advertising and marketing firms to push more opportunities into the application process, and is planning to present a progress report at the next special meeting.


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