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Input sought on WBCSD superintendent search

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Staff Writer | April 3, 2024 1:00 AM

PRIEST RIVER — A series of community input meetings are planned for next week as the West Bonner County School District launches its search for its next superintendent.

Roughly nine meetings will be held Thursday, April 11, ranging from administrative and classified staff to county and city officials. Meetings also are planned with high school students, parents, and community members.

Meetings scheduled include: 7:30 a.m., administrative staff, district office; 8:30 a.m., classified staff, district office; 9:30 a.m., city, county and chamber officials, district office; 11:15 a.m., all Priest Lake Elementary staff and community, Priest Lake Elementary; 2 p.m., Priest River Lamanna High School student leadership, Priest River Lamanna High School; 3:15 p.m., parents and community members, Priest River Elementary; 4:30 p.m., all staff welcome, PRLHS; 5:30 p.m., certified staff, PRLHS; 6:30 p.m., PRLHS.

Giving all stakeholders a chance to share their thoughts, input and concerns is important — as is the ability for those attending the input sessions to speak freely, said Shar Johns of McPherson & Jacobson, which was hired by the district to lead the search March 20. The board hopes to hire a superintendent and complete their contract by July 1.

"You want the you want your community to be able to speak freely," Johns told the board at that meeting. "You want them to be able to voice their concerns."

She told the board she compiles everything stakeholders tell her, what they feel are the positive attributes, and what it feels are the challenges. She also asks what characteristics they want to see in a superintendent, and how they would like to see that person move the district forward.

"They can be very candid with me," Johns said. "I create a very safe place for them to do that."

Information gathered at the meetings will help the district identify what is important to the various stakeholders as it moves forward with its search, Johns said.

"I think we definitely want to hear from some of the community groups," Trustee Paul Turco said. "Specifically, I'd like to hear from the staff, our administration, with some student involvement as well as possibly parents."

Noting the district started behind several others also seeking a superintendent, Turco said the professional experience in conducting such a search offered by McPherson was invaluable.

"[It's important to have] someone with professional experience that can help guide us and find the best fit for our community in our district," he added.

Information gathered at the community input session and through online surveys will help the board make an informed decision as it starts to interview potential candidates, Johns told the board March 20. The information can also be posted to the district website to give clarity to those looking at the job posting.

"All the times that I've done this, the candidates that are interested in the job, they dig into your district, and they search what you're looking for," Johns said. "And … if they know us, and they know they need to look at that stakeholder input as well so that they know what it is that the community is looking for."