Milton seeks public input in job search
MILTON Milton School Board President Rob Roy says the school district plans to allow the public to get more involved in the upcoming superintendent search than ever before.
The board awaits applicants for the district’s top job, which opened up late last year when Superintendent Mike Garrow resigned. Candidate interviews are still two months away, district sources say.
In the meantime, Roy said, the board is offering residents a chance to get immersed in the hiring process.
Residents and school district staff will get their first chance to sound off on the qualities they seek in a superintendent at a public forum that runs all afternoon and evening on Tuesday.
Roy said consultants with the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, which is assisting in the superintendent search, suggested opening the process to residents by allowing them to take part in focus groups.
The focus groups will compile criteria and qualities most important for a schools superintendent in Milton, Roy said. The search consultants will use the list to screen applicants.
Roy said the board liked the public being involved in that process.
“We want the community and the public to feel confident in the candidates, the people that we’re looking at. We’re trying to be as open and as transparent about this process as we can.
“It’s their schools, it’s their kids and it’s their tax money. We want to make the public feel included in the process,” Roy said.
It’s the first time the board has completely opened any part of a superintendent hiring process to the public.
In more recent superintendent searches, the board has hand picked residents, school staff and administrators for focus groups and interviews.
Along with public focus groups, Roy said the board is “seriously considering” holding a town hall-style forum or a meet-and-greet session when the public could meet finalists for superintendent and ask them questions.
Roy said it could be similar to a forum the Madison School District held during its recent superintendent search.
“They had a moderator who called on people from the audience, and the mayor was there, like a town-hall meeting.” Roy said.
“We don’t know what we’d do yet, or if we’d go that direction. We’re still kicking it around.”
Roy said the position has been posted and the district is taking applicants through March 25. The board could hire a new superintendent by early May. Roy outlined the following as key dates in the search plan:
- April 8: The board will have a list of a half-dozen or more candidates it could interview. He said the board tentatively plans to make that list available to the public.
- April 20: First round of candidate interviews. The interviews will be conducted by the board, search consultants and a board-selected panel of residents, school staff and district administrators, Roy said.
- April 24 and 25: The board will bring back a handful of finalists who have passed preliminary background checks.
- May 1: The board could be ready to begin negotiating an offer to a finalist. That process could take days, and the board would not disclose the finalist until after the board and the finalist reach an official agreement.
The search comes on the heels of Garrow resigning last November after the district completed an investigation of his conduct and use of district computer equipment.
The investigation showed no clear breaches of conduct, and a probe of a complaint that Garrow used a district computer to show colleagues photos of a nude or scantily clad woman showed inconclusive results.
The investigation cost the district thousands of dollars in legal costs, and Garrow is being paid more than $130,000 through a severance agreement.
Milton schools principal Theresa Rusch is being paid a $20,000 stipend to fill in as interim superintendent through June 20.