The Wenatchee School Board held a special meeting with the consulting firm McPherson & Jacobson to begin their search for their next superintendent on Nov. 1.

On Oct. 25, the board decided to contract with McPherson and Jacobson to aid them in their search for a new superintendent once their interim superintendent, Bill Eagle, leaves his position in June.

Lead Consultant Dr. Steven Lowder and Dr. Gustavo Balderas represented the consulting firm.

Dr. Lowder said their schedule is still flexible since they are starting their search so early, and said they will start the process by getting more acquainted with the district, get involved with the community, advertise and start collecting applications, and vet the candidates after the application period has closed.

The district was originally going to start advertising the position before Thanksgiving, but Dr. Lowder said that that could be pushed to after Thanksgiving into December or January.

The application process is projected to close by Jan. 12, 2023.

Board President Martin Barron asked to clarify the language regarding community outreach and reaching out to stakeholders.

Board Member Laura Jaecks added that last time they picked a superintendent, the community representatives involved said they felt their input wasn't valued.

Dr. Balderas said that it's best to be completely transparent with the community on how their input will be used in this process.

"A lot of times it is a one way loop, and that's where I think in some systems it doesn't build trust if it's not a two way loop," Dr. Balderas explained.

Dr. Lowder also recommended hosting an informal dinner date with the superintendent candidates to get a more human perspective.

He estimated the total interview time to be roughly two hours for each candidate, with the combined dinner and formal interview. This entire hiring process is expected to take two full weeks.

Jaecks said the interview process seemed backwards and that the board may not have as much time getting to know the candidates, suggesting that the candidates meet with the board first then proceed to stakeholder meetings down the line.

Dr. Lowder suggested that they could do two rounds of interviews to better vet the candidates and get to know them.

Norton suggests doing the stakeholder meetings similarly as to how they hire their new principals, which is by bringing each candidate and rotating them through multiple community groups.

Dr. Lowder advised not doing that, which he dubbed as the “speed-dating” method, because that could leave too much pressure for the candidates, resulting in the board possibly losing candidates in the process.

Dr. Lowry reiterated that their firm typically does the vetting for the board, and then the board can decide how to go forward from there.

On the topic of salary packages, Jaecks suggested checking in that their salary range is still competitive.

Board members Maria Iniguez and Julie Norton recommended offering a competitive salary to attract highly-qualified candidates.

Barron asked when they would need to confirm a salary rate in light of a recent state law requiring employers to disclose their salary range

Dr. Lowder said he and his firm will look over the district’s current employment contract unless compensation is incredibly low.

The firm will provide updated salary information from the Administrators Association of Washington. 

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