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School board to pick consulting firm to help in search for new superintendent

BEMIDJI -- Bemidji Area Schools board members are set to pick a consulting firm to help them replace the school district’s outgoing superintendent.

The board interviewed representatives from School Exec Connect and the Minnesota School Board Association at a special meeting Monday. A third company, BKB Associates, was set to be interviewed then, but its representative cancelled due to an incoming snowstorm that night.

Board Chair Ann Long Voelkner said she anticipates selecting one of the consultants at the board’s next regular meeting later this month. The district could also keep the search in-house, so to speak, and ask its own personnel to handle the search.

School Exec Connect would charge the district $14,500 plus expenses, according to documents supplied to the Pioneer. Under that firm’s proposal, the board members, district staff, community members, and consultants would create a new superintendent profile in January, put together and interview a pool of candidates over the next two months, and make a selection in March.

The school board association’s estimated fee is capped at $10,000. Consultants there would aim to help interview candidates in March and select a finalist by early April, according to a tentative timeline in the association’s proposal.

BKB, which helped board members select current Superintendent Jim Hess in the early 2000s, would charge the school district $10,500 plus an estimated $2,500 to $3,000 in expenses. That firm’s proposal did not include a specific timeline, but its search process also called for board members to consult with area residents and district staff to develop a profile for their ideal superintendent, narrow a candidate pool, and so on.

A fourth consulting company, Nebraska-based McPherson & Jacobson, did not have an interview scheduled Monday.

Joe Bowen

Joe Bowen covers education and health for the Bemidji Pioneer.

He is a Minneapolis native and a 2009 graduate of St. John's University. Before moving to Bemidji, Bowen covered education, local politics, crime, and everything in between for the Perham Focus in Perham, Minnesota, and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis.

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