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Ladue School District Hoping Next Selected Superintendent Will Be a Winner

Public input is a valuable resource this time as Ladue searches for a new superintendent.

The Ladue school district at one time enjoyed the stability of having two superintendents run the district for the first 58 combined years. That was under the watchful eye of the late Dr. Ivan C. Nicholas and retired Dr. Charles D. McKenna.

Then, the revolving door began. The system hired and watched leave quickly Drs. Stewart Weinberg, David Benson and most recently, Marsha Chappelow.

District faithful are wondering out loud, if, this time it will be a hit or a miss?

The Ladue School District Board of Education has taken its charge seriously, both establishing a strict search timeline and hiring a national search firm (McPherson & Jacobson of Omaha, NE) specialists in this line of work.

The district conducted two informal public sessions to gain input from interested parties. Those who could not attend either session (Tuesday night at Ladue-Horton Watkins High School or the board offices Wednesday morning) may add their comments by emailing, faxing or writing the Omaha office.

Here’s how:

  • E-mail: mail@macnjake.com
  • Fax: 402-991-7168
  • write: McPherson & Jacobson, 7905 L St., Suite 310, Omaha, NE 68127

Comments and suggestions may be sent anonymously.

Dr. James C. Christman, an educator at Pittsburgh State University (Kansas) and consultant to McPherson & Jacobson led Tuesday night’s discussion group for some 50 in attendance.

Dr. Christman outlined the five selection criteria team to be used by his firm and by the school board:

  • possess a high E.Q. (Emotional Quotient) as exemplified by  sense of humor, empathy and approachability.
  • Demonstrate high ethical standards and actions; honesty and trustworthy.
  • Demonstrate strong leadership skills-decisive and assertive and thoughtful.
  • Possess strong communications skills; verbal, written, listening, expressive and receptive, as well as excellent grammar.
  • Knows and understands the Ladue community and its values.

Some in the audience took issue with this aforementioned list. School board member Sheri Glantz quickly intervened, saying the list of five  criteria was boiled down from one of 38.

Still, others like attorney and City of Ladue councilman Hal Burroughs were seeking a vision of excellence in education more than a given criteria like honesty and good ethical standards.

“Let’s face it, the best candidates have other opportunities, and Ladue needs to market itself to find the best,” said Dr. Christman. “This time of the year is the prime season for superintendent searches.”

One respondent said he’d rather see Ladue hire someone who already holds the same position, rather than getting someone out of work.

Experienced teacher adds in

Veteran Old Bonhomme School Kindergarten teacher Dee Dee Boudinet said, in her opinion “The next superintendent will be the face of our community and have the ability to do things like get bond issues passed, etc.”

Others felt having a strong working knowledge of the intricacies of district finances was critical. Christman said there is not a school district in America that is working with enough resources.

Burroughs said “It is critical the new superintendent must have the ability to work with the resources available and do it well.”

What happens next 

The application process ends January 23, though Christman hinted if a truly outstanding application came in late, it would still get consideration.

Christman has prepared the board for a four-hour session in early February to review all applications. McPherson & Jacobson will be at that meeting to speak on behalf of any or all of the applicants.

The Ladue school community will be able to meet the new superintendent, hopefully by the  end of February.

Feel free to tell us below in the comments section what criteria you are looking for in the next hired superintendent.

flyoverland January 10, 2013 at 03:11 PM
Knows and understands the Ladue community and its values. If that is a requirement, that would rule out anyone from outside the district. If the board spends all this time and energy and then simply decides "the best candidate was right here all the time," it will look foolish and the process will look contrived.
James Baer (Editor) January 10, 2013 at 04:02 PM
You don't think an educated person from the outside could be schooled in the goings on in Ladue? In my day, that used to be called "doing your homework!"
CreveCoeurDad January 10, 2013 at 06:17 PM
"Christman said there is not a school district in America that is working with enough resources." Seriously? This is the guy in charge of the search? "How much is enough?" should have been the first question they asked him, before showing him the door. I hate sounding like flyoverland or PaulRevere, but that attitude would have disqualified him in my book from the very start. And then there's this one: “Let’s face it, the best candidates have other opportunities, and Ladue needs to market itself to find the best,” said Dr. Christman. Sounds like a pitch to make us overspend on something we don't really need. Does this guy also work as Albert Pujols' agent? Trust me, there are probably 50 people out there who could do an excellent job as the next Ladue superintendent. We don't need "the best", we need someone who will do an excellent job for a reasonable amount of money. The parents, students, and teachers of Ladue will ensure that the schools remain excellent, the superintendent's job is to keep the train from running off the tracks, not reinvent education.
James Baer (Editor) January 10, 2013 at 09:01 PM
I imagine the budget is set for the next superintendent's salary, no matter who they hire?
flyoverland January 11, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Certainly I think an educated outside person could learn about the area. That is my point. It doesn't say that. It says, "Knows and understands the Ladue community and its values." "Knows" implies a current knowledge, not the ability to obtain it, which would limit the search to those currently here. I am all for bringing in someone from the outside.
CreveCoeurDad January 11, 2013 at 02:36 AM
You would think that, but I think his statement "(T)he best candidates have other opportunities, and Ladue needs to market itself to find the best" is Consultantese for "You people need to be willing to pay more money."

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