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Jasper County Tribune

Colfax-Mingo chooses search firm to help pick new superintendent

Dale Monroe of Ray and Associates, Inc., pitches to the Colfax-Mingo School Board.
Dale Monroe of Ray and Associates, Inc., pitches to the Colfax-Mingo School Board.

Monday night, the Colfax-Mingo School Board held a special meeting to interview two firms to assist them with the search for the new district superintendent.

“I have no desire to leave,” Dr. Jim Verlengia, the district’s current superintendent said, “but circumstances change things sometimes. We have lots of good things going on. This is a strong board, a very excellent community, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

Both firms, Ray and Associates, Inc., and Grundmeyer Leader Services specialize in searches for K-12 leadership and responded to a request for proposal (RFP) the district submitted this fall. The school board interviewed each firm separately and used a points system to objectively score them. After the interviews, the board held a meeting to discuss the candidates. Ray and Associates led the evening with 833 points from the board, and Grundmeyer trailed close behind with 809.5 points. After a brief discussion, the board voted unanimously to hire Ray and Associates to guide them through their search.

Ray and Associates, Inc., based in Cedar Rapids, has been matching school leadership with districts since 1975. They have more than 170 associates across the nation who have contacts with local universities that offer programs in higher education. Dale Monroe, the regional search director who pitched to the C-M School Board Monday night, is based in Marion and will be the board’s contact throughout their superintendent search.

Monroe has worked in the education space for 45 years and stressed his experience and familiarity with the search process.

“After past search experiences,” board member Brandie Gean said after the interviews, “I like Ray and Associates because of the structure they might provide us. I like the consistency.”

Grundmeyer Leader Services, who have established themselves as a search firm in the past decade, stressed its use of innovative practices — from Skype interviews to candidate personality assessments — and willingness to work with the school board to tailor the search to their needs. They currently have a 100-percent success rate with their searches. Founder Trent Grundmeyer and consultant Kevin Fiene, who would have led Colfax-Mingo through the superintendent search had the board chosen them, presented to the board.

“The thing about Trent (Grundmeyer) that was nice is he was in the local area and had local contacts,” board member Chet Williams said during the board’s discussion.

Both Ray and Associates and Grundmeyer Leader Services indicated the board is beginning their search process at an optimal time.

“You can post this position by Christmas break,” Grundmeyer said. “The candidate pool will be larger because people have more time to apply.”

“A lot of people during the holiday season are filling out applications,” Monroe said.

Although Verlengia serves as one of Grundmeyer’s consultants, he remained objective throughout the meeting and repeatedly emphasized the board should make the decision based on the district’s needs.

Contracting with Ray and Associates will cost the district $6,500 as opposed to Grundmeyer Leader Service’s estimated $8,527. The cost, however, did not play a big factor in its decision.

“It’s less than last time we did a search,” board member Jan Myers said. “I think that it was about $10,000 last time.”

Ray and Associates’ ability to reach a wider pool of candidates and whittle them down before bringing them to the board ultimately won them the bid.

School board president Patrick Utz called both firms the following day to notify them of the board’s decision so they can move forward with the process and post the application before the holidays.

Contact Phoebe Marie Brannock at 641-792-3121 ext. 6547 or pbrannock@newtondailynews.com

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