Farmersville ISD going it alone in superintendent search

BLOGGER’S NOTE: This blog post was published originally on the KETR-FM website, KETR.org.

Farmersville Independent School District trustees have decided to take a leap of faith.

They are placing their faith in their own ability to find, screen and select a superintendent of schools for the district.

I wish them all the luck in the world as they march down this trail.

Superintendent Jeff Adams announced in October his intention to retire from a job that pays him more than $200,000 annually. He runs a district with 1,500 students attending classes on four campuses. He will leave office as soon as the district finds a new superintendent, which he hopes will be before the end of the academic year.

As he told trustees the other evening during a board meeting, “You don’t to be stuck with me for another year.” He plans to stick around long enough to help his replacement settle into his or her new job

The norm for school boards is to hire a “head-hunter” firm to do the search. Farmersville ISD chose to go it alone, to solicit applications, get rid of the also rans initially, winnow the field down to a more manageable number. They intend to conduct two rounds of interviews, perform home visits with the semi-finalists and then announce a lone finalist for the top administrative job no later than March 5.

It’s a tall order. All the trustees have day jobs or are retired from their careers.

Board President Tony Gray told me that one of the trustees’ concerns about hiring a consultant was that many times the consulting firm “already has someone in mind” when they start the search. Perhaps I should have reminded him that communities often have the very same perception when local boards conduct such searches themselves. I didn’t go there.

Gray said the board hired an outside firm when it hired Adams in 2000.

I want to offer a veiled endorsement of the process that the Farmersville ISD board is taking in its search for a superintendent.

Gray insists that Jeff Adams will play no active role in selecting the next superintendent. He will be available to offer advice and counsel to the board. Indeed, Adams even offered the other evening to “dig up dirt” on potential candidates just to ensure the school district isn’t hit with any unpleasant surprises.

I don’t know enough about the district to make a judgment on the wisdom on the trustees’ decision to conduct this search themselves. They’ll save some money. They need to move quickly. They know the district, its students, its faculty and staff and the political lay of the land.

Furthermore, as Tony Gray said to me, voters elected them to be “leaders.”

They now are going to seek to lead the school district into a new era that will be defined in part by the individual they choose as the next superintendent of schools.

May they choose wisely.

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