RTR School District on schedule for hiring new superintendent

TYLER — Leaving 2017 behind and having tied up the loose ends regarding its former superintendent Bruce Houck, the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton School Board now turns its focus on finding a full-time permanent replacement.

The district bought out its contract with Houck through Southwest Education Cooperative to the tune of $190,000 last June and is working with the Minnesota School Board Association to hire a new superintendent.

The district is on schedule to hire the new administrator by July 1, having posted the vacancy on the MSBA, the MASA (superintendents’ association) and the EdPost (another education-related organization) websites.

Interim Superintendent Lee Warne is helping with the search by connecting the RTR School Board with the Minnesota School Board Association that specializes in that department at $3,850. That’s just over what they would have had to pay him to do the job, he said at a December school board meeting.

The RTR School Board agreed to hire the Minnesota School Board Association to post the position and send out a trainer to guide the school board members through the interview process.

The trainer’s name is Sandy Gundlach. She will be providing training at least twice throughout the upcoming months on the hiring process.

“Sandy has had years of experience helping school boards with hiring superintendents, over 60 hirings,” Warne said. “She will conduct two training sessions prior to candidates coming for interviews.”

“Applications and inquiries have already started coming in,” Warne said. “The deadline is February 21.”

At the Jan. 3 meeting, the board adopted a search timeline, discussed hiring criteria, search procedures and advertising and the MSBA posting on its web site.

On Jan. 8, Warne, acting in his role as the board-approved spokesperson, gave final approval of advertising materials.

“We sent it off to the MSBA who posted it just a couple of days ago,” Warne said Thursday. “It went out all over the state.”

Feb. 22, the day after the application deadline, the MSBA will conduct initial screening and pre-interviews of applicants, Warne said.

On Feb. 28, the board will meet to determine finalists, develop and finalize interview procedures and questions, the board’s timeline reads.

March 5 and 6, and 7 if needed, the board will conduct its first round of interviews and go through the process of checking references. Interviews are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

At the March 12 board meeting, also scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., the board will conduct reference checks and hold second-round interviews and select a finalist. The board members will determine contract parameters and negotiate the employment contract.

The board will send a committee to conduct a site visit on March 15, 16 or 19, if needed, Warne said.

He added that the site visit is to canvass the candidate’s community and references to get a feel for what they they think of the candidate.

At the March 21 regular board meeting, the board members will make the hiring decision and determine employment contract negotiations process and parameters.

On March 27, there is to be a 7 p.m. board meeting where the board will have the opportunity to approve the employment contract for the chosen candidate so that the new superintendent can report to work on July 1, which is the first day of the new fiscal year.

July 1 also marks the end of Warne’s serving as the RTR School District’s interim superintendent whether or not it hires one by then, he said at a previous meeting.