Three search companies pitch to school board in quest for superintendent

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By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes

Representatives of three executive search companies spoke to the Salem-Keizer School Board on Tuesday as part of the process of selecting a superintendent.

The board is expected to choose one of the three at next Tuesday’s regular meeting. The companies are Hazard, Young & Attea; Ray and Associates; and McPherson & Jacobson, LLC.

Board members are considering each firm’s experience with evaluating superintendent candidates, familiarity with the needs of school districts in the Northwest, success at placing superintendents who serve out the terms of their contracts, and financial charges to the district.

Speaking first were two representatives of HYA, which charges a base fee of $29,500. Following were three people from Ray, whose minimum charge is $27,000, and one representative of McPherson & Jacobson, which charges a base fee of $28,500.

HYA recommended that the board ask early in the evaluation process what salary range the candidate wants, saying this would give the board more leverage in negotiation than it would have by making an offer on telling the applicant he or she is the first choice.

HYA guaranteed that no candidates would be identified before being told they were finalists.

Ray stressed that it had been in business the longest of any search firm, 38 years, and is familiar with Oregon. Ray added the tenure for superintendents it provides averages eight years, the best for any such firm, and that its representatives regularly attend state and national educators’ conventions.

The McPherson representative said that, although none of its approximately 100 consultants live in Oregon, several are familiar with this state.

Last year, he said, 80 percent of the superintendents his firm had interviewed were still in their positions. He said 60 percent were in their positions in the last 10 years.

All three companies have stressed ethnic diversity of their consultants and urged the board to look at references from their clients.

Although a decision on which search firm to use will not come before next Tuesday’s meeting, board members indicated after the presentations that McPherson seemed to make the weakest presentation. Ray and HYA appeared to be in a tight race, with directors inclined to favor Ray. However, all agreed to evaluate the candidate firms as closely as possible for a week, so there is no clear indication which one will be selected.

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