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LPOSD aims to be competitive for new superintendent

by EMILY BONSANT
Staff Writer | January 7, 2022 1:00 AM

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PONDERAY — The Lake Pend Oreille School Board has begun its search for a new superintendent.

The search follows an announcement by Tom Albertson last month that he would retire on July 1, 2022. In a meeting with Northwest Leadership Associates on Jan. 5, LPOSD trustees said Albertson gave them ample time to prepare their search.

Chairwoman Geraldline Lewis said that in the past LPOSD has missed out on top notch superintendent applicants due to not moving the hiring process fast enough when compared to other districts. She said, luckily in its most recent search in 2019, the district had a qualified internal applicant in Albertson.

NWLA is a superintendent search firm which has fulfilled over 300 superintendent searches in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Mountana. Their first step is to start with focus groups to see what qualities and experience are wanted in the ideal candidate. Focus groups will be with administrative staff and teachers, parents and community members, and with the board.

At one time, NWLA officials said every district was looking for a superintendent with an emphasis in teaching and learning and then moved to a finance emphasis. Every school district is different and has different needs, the officials said.

NWLA will organize the focus groups and suggested the community workshop happen over Zoom, since online meetings tend to have a higher attendance rate.

Dennis Ray with NWLA suggested that the board not be present for the meetings with the LPOSD principals and staff since their very presence could stifle input. The board agreed.

Lewis suggested that the board attend the community focus group if they could all attend. She wanted the board to be intaking the same information and to have the same perspective of input coming from staff and community members.

After the focus groups, the job will be posted online and the nationwide search will begin. Pam Veltri with NWLA, said that LPOSD should get many applicants due to the culture of the district.

Trustee Lonnie Williams agreed. He thought LPOSD would have lots of applications since so many people want to move to North Idaho.

NWLA officials said that ideally there should be 18 to 30 applicants for the position. However, Ray said he’d be surprised if the job attracted that many applications due to the amount of open positions. The hope is to get the best candidates so trustees have a hard decision to make between strong candidates, he said.

The goal is to have six candidates at a preliminary interview. Three candidates will move on to a final interview where they will tour schools, meet staff and then go into an executive session with the board. Staff will have input sheets on their interactions with the candidates.

The council unanimously agreed to move the application deadline for the position from March 10, to March 3. They also voted to move up the date for the posting of the position if possible.

Ray said that if a new superintendent resigns within two years of accepting the job, NWLA will do another search without charge other than reimbursement for appropriate expenses.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Jan. 11 at 5 p.m. at the Ponderay Events Center.

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