Williston Public School District No. 1 has started advertising for a new superintendent.

The ad, which asks candidates to apply by April 30, is the latest step toward finding a replacement for superintendent Michael Campbell, who announced earlier this year that he would retire when his contract runs out in June. Campbell joined the district in July 2016.

The district is working with Ray and Associates, an executive search firm, to find a new superintendent. The board voted 5-0 in late February to hire the firm at a cost of $16,000 plus expenses.

The application stage is the beginning of the process. After the application deadline, Ray and Associates will present a group of between eight and 12 candidates for the board to consider. From there, the top two or three will be finalists and be brought in for interviews with the district.

The ad lists about a dozen qualifications the District 1 school board is looking for. They include strong communication, people and leadership skills, experience recruiting good staff, knowledge of curriculum and the ability to manage the district’s resources.

In his phone call explaining the search process, company president Ryan Ray said the firm uses a scoring system that has search committee members rank candidates against one another. He said that helps make preferences more clear.

“It’s really great, because what it does is it brings consensus to the board,” Ray said.

Applicants are being asked to submit a letter of application stating their personal qualifications, experiences, and reasons why they’re interested in the position, along with an online application form and a resume and four current letters of recommendation.

The ad lists the salary as in the range of $210,000 plus an excellent comprehensive benefits package. When Campbell was hired in 2016, the advertisement listed the salary range for the position as between $160,000 and $185,000.

The agreement with Ray and Associates includes what Ray called a two-year guarantee. If either the district or the candidate they end up hiring is unhappy within two years, Ray and Associates would do a new search and only charge for expenses.

That’s only happened a few times in the 42 years the company has been in business, he said, likening the process to setting up a marriage.

“It’s got to be the right fit,” he said. “Otherwise it’s going to be a divorce.”

The superintendents the firm helps districts hire stay in place for an average of six and a half years, Ray said, compared to a national average of about three years.

The board hasn’t announced when it expects to hire a new superintendent, but during his initial conversation with board members, Ray assured them there was plenty of time.

“I know what you’re thinking right now is that you’re behind the eight ball,” he said. “I just want to put your mind at ease. You’re not behind the eight ball as of yet.”


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