Groundwork laid for superintendent search in De Pere
By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – The De Pere school district will begin interviewing finalists for superintendent by November.
The position opening for the retiring Dr. Ben Villarruel is slated to be posted this week.
He is leaving at the end of the 2021-22 school year.
Board of education members on Monday, April 26, heard from two representatives from the education search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates of Chicago, which the board approved April 19 to conduct the search.
The firm’s representatives laid out a timeline as to when board members can expect to see progress.
Board President David Youngquist made it clear the board wants someone with experience.
“This is not a stepping stone,” he said. “This is a destination job.”
Board member Bob Mathews concurred.
“This is a tough one to cut your teeth on,” he said.
In May, the firm will interview members of the board and others to hear what qualities they feel are important in a future superintendent.
In June, the firm will hold separate hour-long focus sessions with various groups in the community that have a stake in the school district, including teachers, administrators, support staff, student leaders, and parents who have students attending school in the district.
Focus groups will zero in on a few targeted questions.
The firm representatives said they’d devote August and September to vetting and screening the applicants.
They’ll then whittle the pool of candidates down to the top six or eight.
Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates will meet the candidates, whether face-to-face or remotely, for preliminary interviewing.
Consultant Pat Neudecker said the firm encourages the district to provide consistent updates to the public on the status of the search via newsletters and posting on social media.
She suggested the district post a regular superintendent search section on the district website, something many of the school districts they have worked with have done.
A few board members said they didn’t see much value in letters of recommendation from candidates’ references, although they said talking to references would be helpful.
The consultants said they too felt it was more important to personally check references verbally rather than rely on a letter.
The board liked the idea of including written essay-style questions on the applications, because it would give them an idea of the candidate’s writing and communication style.
In other business, two incumbent board members took their oaths after winning their elections earlier this month.
Dan Van Straten and Jeff Mirkes were sworn in for three-year terms.
Board officers were reconfirmed in their roles: David Younquist was reconfirmed as board president, Mark Meneau as vice president, Van Straten as clerk, and Bob Mathews as treasurer.
The board also voted to not give itself a raise.
The president receives $3,600 per year, officers receive $3,400 per year, and members receive $3,200 per year.