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PCM Explorer

The search is on

PCM begins process of finding a new superintendent

The search is underway for the next superintendent for the PCM School District. The school board met before the regular monthly meeting May 18 to discuss the process with search coordinator Trent Grundmeyer of Grundmeyer Leader Search.

"97 percent of the superintendents we've hired in the past five years are still at their district, the national average is not good averaging three and a half years," Grundmeyer said. "We really hang out hat on using all of the tools we shared with you in our proposal to make sure it is the right fit, not just for the district, but the communities, as well."

To start off, Grundmeyer shared the district already has three candidates who have completed an application along with nine individuals who have started the process. It also has received offers for temporary help since it is getting a later start in the search for a new superintendent.

"Above and beyond the three people you have had apply, we have had two people reach out and say if the PCM district doesn't get who they want, it is a little later in the hiring season than normal, we'd be willing to help during an interim or a shared superintendent," Grundmeyer said."I think you run the search, if you get a rockstar that everyone is happy with, you hire them because your reputation and your finances will carry you, you'll still get a good pool of 20 plus applicants. But if you don't, don't rest, because you have an interim option, sharing options, then you could be one of the first districts doing this next year. So don't settle."

Among the duties of the school board, Grundmeyer said hiring a superintendent is probably one of the most important tasks along with policies and finance. To complete the process, he laid out a timeline of meetings and interviews to hit to hopefully have a candidate selected by the end of June.

The application, which Grundmeyer posted a week before the meeting, will stay active through at least June 13. Should the board want to extend the closing date, it can do at a later time.

After all applications are received, Grundmeyer and his team will review the data and make a recommendation to the board.

"You will see every candidate that applies," Grundmeyer said. "In the end, we will rate the candidates from what you tell us that you want as objectively as we can and we're going to present them to you that way. That doesn't mean you have to go with our top five."

Also during the application time period, a survey has been created for district stakeholders to take to share their opinion on what they would like to see in a superintendent. The survey is available on the district's website, pcmschools.org and the district's Facebook page. For those needing a paper option, contact the district office at 641-259-2316.

After applications have been received, the board will hold a closed session meeting to review the candidates. Grundmeyer will bring all of the information he has compiled through background checks, references, social media checks an additional work to share with the board. That won't be the first time the board has had an opportunity to see who is interested in becoming the next superintendent at PCM.

"Every Monday morning you will get the information for the candidates that submitted the past week and how many have started," Grundmeyer said.

Once the board has whittled down the pool to about five to eight candidates, a second meeting will take place to conduct an initial screening. Through Zoom, the board will be able to talk with each candidate for about 30 minutes before the board selects the candidates it would like to bring in for in-person interviews.

For the final round of interviews, scheduled for June 29, Grundmeyer's timeline has them all completed on the same day using several methods to involve as many people as the board would like. Using people from different group including teachers, administrators, students and community members, he recommends using a mixed group method to conduct candidate interviews.

"The reason we recommend those mixed interview teams is because when you have an administrator group, teacher group, then you have to get together and decide if you are going to with the teachers feedback or the administrators feedback and one group is thinking, the board better go with us. When you mix them up, it is a more efficient schedule and it sets the board up to be more successful as they all get to ask their same questions," Grundmeyer said. "The other thing is, candidates also can't tailor their answers to one group. Any smart interviewer are maybe going to tailor their answers to say what the teachers or the administrators want to hear."

All those involved in the interview, which would be conducted through Zoom, would then fill out a form provided by Grundmeyer to rate the candidate in several areas. The data can then be compiled to show how the teachers, administrators, students, etc. rated the candidate as a group.

"I can see how they could talk to the administrators different, the students but if they are all mixed, I do like that," board Vice President Mitchell Chipps said.

Board member Greg Ingle was concerned with a possible time constraint when the board was interviewing the candidates. Grundmeyer said the board is the last group to interview each candidate, leaving them with extra time to continue with dialogue if needed.

"I like the fact that we have the same people on the same day and you don't lose people, they are in the same mood as when they started," board member Leslie Duinink said. "It also limits our time, if you know you have a day, you can adjust your schedule."

Board member Nicole Stafford said she likes how each candidate is going through the interview process in the same order, affording them the same opportunity to see the facilities before meeting for questioning the final time.

"For me, I don't think it would be very fair for the board to interview if you haven't seen the facilities, that maybe could give somebody an advantage that might not know or saw something they might be curious about," Stafford said.

Following the interviews, the board will hold a special closed session to discuss the candidates and possibly open the meeting to make a selection.

"Once we're done, I put my name, literally, behind the people you hire, so I follow up with them as much as we can to make sure they are supported," Grundmeyer said. "Thank you for the chance to serve the district."

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com

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