The Billings School District 2 board voted Monday night to bring in an executive head-hunting firm to help it hire its next superintendent.
The firm, McPherson & Jacobson based in Omaha, Neb., will search out and compile for the district a list of potential superintendent candidates for trustees to consider. The services will cost the district $17,500.
Chatting by video, trustees heard pitches from McPherson and from another firm, Hazard, Young, Attea & Assoc. based in Illinois. Hazard, Young, Attea bid $22,000 for its services.
Trustees debated for a half-hour which firm to go with and even discussed whether or not they needed to use a search firm at all.
Many acknowledged that Assistant Superintendent Josh Middleton was their likely choice to head the district once interim Superintendent Jack Copps steps down in June.
But they decided a national search would show the public that the board is using a methodical process to ensure that they find the best candidate for the job.
At one point, trustee Travis Smith told the board that he didn’t think it necessary to spend the extra money on a national firm.
“You know I’m against it,” said.
But Allen Halter, the newest trustee on the board, argued for making the selection process thorough and open and involving the public.
Ultimately, the board voted 8-1 to go with McPherson for the search. Trustee Connie Wardell was the only no vote.
The five-hour-meeting Monday night started with trustees marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day by leading everyone in attendance in an a capella version of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
Chairwoman Teresa Stroebe brought in a caged white dove that she adopted last year and spoke about its symbolism of peace.
For the most part, trustees had a smooth, congenial meeting.
Trustees voted unanimously to approve the 2011-2012 labor contract with Billings Classified Employee Association and laid the groundwork for contract negotiations to start with its three unions for 2013.
Copps announced that he was eliminating the two assistant superintendent positions created by past Superintendent Keith Beeman.
Those positions are currently filled by Middleton and Gail Surwill. Under Copps’ direction, Surwill will move back to an executive director’s position and Middleton will be hired as the head of adult education.
Copps said that move would change if the board ends up hiring Middleton as the new superintendent this spring.
Scott Anderson, currently an executive director, will take over operations at the Career Center. Stan Barr, principal there, announced his retirement.