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By Hallie Richwine

The special meeting of the Silver Consolidated School board took place December 28, 2020. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Superintendent Search Plan, specifically the course of action that will be followed with the guidance of Prather Consulting.

Joel Shirley, the consultant leading the search process, presented to the board along with Dr. Hugh Prather. "The search process is composed of six parts," Shirley said. "The duration of the plan will last until you have signed the contract with your new superintendent."

The first part of the process includes setting up advisory staff and community committee members. "This will help develop the criteria that you wish the new superintendent should possess," Shirley said. He said that information will be used for making the job posting as well as advertising.

At the upcoming meeting the consulting firm will present advertising materials for approval. That information will be used for advertising in the Albuquerque Journal and the New Mexico School Board Association. The call for applicants has a deadline of February 26, at which point the process will move to the next step.

Once the applications are in, the screening process will begin. "Any applicant that does not meet the requirements will be rejected at that time and put in a different file," Shirley said. Through March 5 that process will continue, and then the fields of both qualified and unqualified applicants will be made available to the board via Google Docs.

"To reduce the pool of qualified applicants to a pool of finalists, you will review those qualified applicants before going into an executive session in March," Shirley said. "Then you will determine which 3-5 finalists you want to interview."

"Dr. Prather and I will help you work through that process," he said. "Then finalists will be subject to an extensive background check and reference checks." Shirley said it will be at that point in the process that the rejected applicants will be notified. The interviews of the finalists will take place on April 10. "We will work with the board and with the advisory teams to develop questions and appropriate activities to help you reach your decision."

During the April 13 meeting there will be an executive session held for the evaluation of information received from the advisory committees. The advisory committees will ask questions of the applicants and report the strengths of the applicants and any concerns they may have. The committees will forward that feedback to the board.

During the executive session a nomination will be made, but voting takes place during the open meeting.

"[The process] goes pretty fast," board member Ashley Montenegro said. "If we get to a point that we don't receive the applicants for the applicant pool because of COVID, or whatever, is there a contingency in this where we can say we want to slow down?"

"Absolutely," Prather said. He said the plan anticipates those types of concerns. "We've done our best job in offering the ideas that we think make the most sense to structure the process," he said. "If you've looked at all of the applicants that are qualified and you need to do something different, at that point we will modify the plan."

"The plan helps keep moving things forward," Shirley said.

Board member Dr. Michelle Diaz asked if the advisory boards come into play before or after the board has narrowed the field.

"They're not involved until you have narrowed it down to 3-5 people," Shirley said.

"I want to be sure if at any point we decided we don't want to drag it out," Diaz said, "we could call it quits to wait for another time."

Prather said the district will be billed along the way so if any modifications need made or if the board decides to use a different method of eliminating candidates they will not be billed.

Diaz also wanted to know how the meetings would happen.

"At this point we're doing everything virtually," Prather said. "We don't know where we will be with COVID restrictions at that point, so the interview process will be virtual but that could change."

"I would just like to verbalize that my preference would be, if the state allows, to have more of an in-person process," Diaz said.

Board member Mike McMillan's concern regards advertising. "With the Albuquerque Journal, I think it is important that we get our advertising there, but the expense is rather extensive in my opinion." He said he is in favor of advertising on Sunday only.

Prather said a reduction in advertising will reduce the overall cost, and he will have the estimated cost scenarios on January 14.

Prather continued and reminded the board that the advisory staff and committee members will be an official board committee for the duration of the superintendent search plan. Members of the committee will be oriented by Prather Consulting so they will be aware of their responsibilities.

This includes meeting publicly, including the interview process. "Their portion of the interview [process] would be open to the public, so anyone who wants to log on can see what the responses are for the finalists," Shirley said.

McMillan moved to adopt the superintendent search plan from Prather Consulting with the modifications of changing the January meeting date and allowing for the advertisement to only run in the Sunday edition of the Albuquerque Journal.

The motion passed unanimously.

The next meeting of the Silver Consolidated School Board happens January 14, 2021 from 5:30-8:30 pm, via the Facebook page. 

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