25 apply to be next superintendent of Danville Schools

Published 7:52 am Saturday, April 28, 2018

Twenty-five people have applied to be the next superintendent of the Danville Independent School District.

“I can tell you this: I have not seen this many applications in several years of doing this work,” said Tim Eaton, field consultant for the Kentucky School Boards Association, which was enlisted to help with the search.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Tim Eaton, field consultant for the Kentucky Schools Boards Association, explains the process to members of the superintendent screening committee during a joint meeting between the committee and the Danville Board of Education.

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The decision to vacate the position currently held by Superintendent Keith Look was made by the Danville Board of Education during a Feb. 19 meeting.

When the district hired Look in 2014, there were 34 applicants. Eaton said for the last few years, pools had been averaging around 15 applicants per position.

Of the 25 applications, three were not completed.

“I explained to the board the last time I was here, the incomplete application is someone who started the five pieces it takes to make the application complete and they quit and don’t finish it. It stays in our portal at KSBA,” Eaton said. “We do recognize them, but I’ve yet to have a board or screening committee who wanted to review a partial application.”

Out of the 25 applications, five are current superintendents, 10 are in central office positions, five are principals and five are in other educational organizations; there are 22 applicants from within Kentucky and three from out-of-state. Two are women and 23 are men.

Eaton was asked by a screening committee member if that gender breakdown was typical.

“Yes,” he said. “That’s pretty typical … I can’t explain that, that’s the way it is.”

The superintendent screening committee, per KRS 160.352, must be created within 30 days from the day a vacancy occurs or has been determined to occur. It is required to have two teachers, one classified staff member, one board member, one principal and one parent, each elected by their respective groups. A minority member is also required if one has not yet been appointed.

The screening committee members are board of education member Troy McCowan; Toliver Elementary School Principal Ron Ballard; teachers Helen Blevins and Ernest Dunn; classified employee Anne Winburn; and parent Michael Strysick.

Eaton, who said this was the 25th screening committee he had been a part of, explained to the screening committee members they had to do “a lot of legwork.”

“We’ve got a lot applications to read,” he said. “In the next couple of weeks, you’ll be reviewing those.”

The board charged the screening committee with selecting a candidate based on a list of criteria established, including someone who is “energetic,” promotes an environment that is “supportive,” demonstrates “cultural proficiency and an appreciation for diversity and inclusiveness,” is someone who can “cultivate a strong balance between student expectations and a continued focus on innovation,” is someone who will develop plans that are “visionary, achievable and inclusive,” is someone who will be “fiscally responsible” and is someone who provides “strong educational leadership.”

The complete list of criteria was included in the advertisement listed on the KSBA website, Eaton said, and is what the committee needs to use to vet the prospective candidates.

The board was asked by Ballard if there were qualities that were most important.

Board member Lori Finke said, “It’s just nice to find a balance. That’s hard to say … I think that’s kind of up to you guys to see who fits.”

Eaton cautioned the committee against releasing any names of the applicants.

“We do not use any names at this time publicly,” Eaton said. “Confidentiality is very important. We’ll talk about that as a committee. The board, right now, will not see any of the applicants at this point. We’re going to be the ones seeing the applicants … In that regard, when the board is asked questions from the public, they’re going to say, ‘It’s in the hands of the screening committee to bring us the cream of the crop.’”

He said the committee members would likely get questions from the public, but could not reveal names.

“It’s not a good thing to release that kind of information,” Eaton said. “At the appropriate time, the name will be released and that’s the board’s decision.”

The committee will select the top three to five applicants to present to the board. He said the board doesn’t have to select one of those, but typically they do.

“The board does hire the superintendent. We’re going to do the legwork for them and we’re going to select three to five of the top candidates,” Eaton said. “This is a task in itself … It’s a cumbersome task.”

Eaton said the process “always works.”

While the screening committee will continue to meet, they won’t meet with the board until May 24, a meeting that will remain largely in closed session. At that time, they will hand over the names of the candidates, specifically pointing out the top candidates by alphabetical order, not by rank.

“They don’t have to take the recommendation of the screening committee, but 99.9 percent of the time, they do. Our work is important,” Eaton said.

Interviews will be held by the board at the end of May and into June, with a decision to be made by mid-June. Tentatively, a new superintendent will be named by June 15.