Why would the school board use a search firm?

The search for a superintendent has many steps and moving parts — to name a few:

  • Engage with community to have voices heard in a variety of different ways such as open forums, group input sessions, and an online survey
  • Per community input and the board’s vision for the district, get clear about the ideal candidate profile
  • Author a job description
  • Advertise the role
  • Review and vet applications
  • Author meaningful interview questions that get to the heart of the role, closely aligned to the district’s needs
  • Conduct thorough interviews, reference checks, and background checks
  • Communicate with candidates throughout the process, including scheduling interviews and notifying candidates of the Board’s decisions
Many school boards choose to hire a firm to help manage and facilitate these numerous steps, particularly as the school board is concurrently managing the day-to-day responsibilities of being a school board member. Hiring a search firm is a common practice for many organizations across government, nonprofit, and for-profit sectors when conducting an important talent search.

Alternatively, a school board can choose not to hire a search firm or consultant and conduct the search themselves. Boards that commit to this should be aware of the time and effort required for a search. The benefit of a school board using the same search firm is that the firm better knows the school board — and community. There is a level of relationship building and trust that is key for a school board when working with a search firm. School board members should be able to be direct and transparent in their needs and feedback on candidates and process.  

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