Input sought in search for new superintendent

OSBA Director of Board Development Steve Kelley facilitated a discussion with community members on Oct. 8 regarding the search for a new South Lane School District superintendent.

South Lane School District’s search for a new superintendent has begun and community input is being solicited as part of the process.

School board members, staff and community members gathered at the Cottage Grove High School Oct. 8 for a community input session facilitated by the Oregon School Boards Association’s Director of Board Development Steve Kelley.

The superintendent position will be vacated June 2020 by Larry Sullivan, who was initially named to the position as an interim superintendent May 2018 after his predecessor, Krista Parent, was ousted by the school board amid misconduct allegations and a scandal involving a workplace affair.

The Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission later dismissed the misconduct allegations against Parent.

In the coming search process, key priorities and standards for a new superintendent will be identified by community members and a screening committee.

“That becomes the lens by which your school board will look through the entire process,” Kelley said. “That’s what we will look at the applications through. That’s how we’ll develop the interview questions. That’s how we’ll judge the answers.”

Kelley elicited ideas from the audience during the night’s session, asking for opinions about community and school district strengths and challenges.

Audience comments on strengths revolved around Cottage Grove characteristics such as its rural atmosphere, its level of cooperation, welcoming nature, a sense of its own identity and the longevity of stay of its long-term citizens.

Kelley articulated his own personal impressions of the town as well.

“I’ve gained an appreciation for your small-town feel — your ruralness, if you will,” he said.

Community member Jimmy Schaper added, “We are a micropolitan. We are the obverse of Portland.”

In discussing challenges, participants brought up the level of poverty in the area, graduation rates, academic performances, a high turnover rate of district staff and a lack of funding for educational assistance in the school district.

Kelley also facilitated a discussion about the qualities and qualifications the audience would like to see in a new superintendent.

Among the many ideas, audience members expressed a desire for someone who is collaborative with the community and staff, creative, passionate about their job, open to other opinions, hands-on, transparent and views the district through a lens of equity.

The session also outlined a timeline for the search process, which is expected to be completed next March.

For the time being, community members are encouraged to take part in an online survey available on the South Lane School District’s homepage. The survey will be available online until Oct. 22.

On Nov. 4, a selection process will begin for a potential screening committee, who will receive training and present superintendent candidate recommendations to the school board in January. Final interviews are expected to be held in March and the new superintendent will begin work July 1.

The selection of a new superintendent will mark the first time the role will be filled in a long-term capacity since Parent’s vacancy.

The online survey can be found at www.slane.k12.or.us.

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