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Public meeting held in district’s search

Interested members of the community met Tuesday evening at Roosevelt Elementary to discuss the search for the next superintendent of the Farmington R-7 district.

Board of Education President Angela Hahn welcomed the small crowd and said the input from the evening’s meeting was important to the board. She added the opinions are very important in choosing the next superintendent.

Dr. Jerry Waddle, an employee of the Missouri School Board Association, chaired the meeting and explained the superintendent search process. He clarified that the MSBA does not hire the administrator, but simply helps with the candidate search.

One part of the process is formulating a “needs assessment” for the district. He invited the staff and community to give their input. This, he said, helps the board know what the staff and community are looking for in the next district leader.

Waddle said the position is already posted on the MSBA website, found at, and has already generated several inquiries. He said the MSBA handles the screening process, background checks and calls references. Then he meets with the school board and brings a list of applicants he believes are qualified … and relays his views of the candidates’ positives and negatives.

The board has listed their qualification requirements to include previous administrative experience, preferring superintendent experience and a doctorate. The deadline for the applications is Feb. 18.

The board will narrow the list and set up interviews with who they deem as the most qualified applicants. MSBA does not attend the interviews but does give the board of education a packet of information about the candidates.

Waddle recommends further checking on the candidates, including visits to the districts where the candidates are currently working. He said MSBA can help with the employement contract, although Farmington has an attorney who can handle contracts.

He recommends the board narrow the list to four to six for interviews.

Dr. David Cramp asked how many applicants a school this size can expect.

Waddle said there are typically 15 to 20 applicants. But there is a lot of early interest in this position. He expects to have at least 30 applicants.

One district patron asked, “Do you feel confident that the reports (or references) you are getting are trustworthy (from those who apply)?”

Waddle said he gets a lot of information from past administrators, people who work in education and by doing background checks. He strongly recommends the board do further background checks.

Waddle said it’s not uncommon for a district to have two or three candidates from within the district, and this district usually attracts a lot of applicants. This district will also likely have three or four out of state applicants.

Ardie Henson asked that if you have one candidate who gets glowing reviews and then have a couple of negative reviews, do you dig further?

Waddle said “yes”, adding that he is quick to follow up on a review or recommendation that seems out of order with others about the same candidate.

He said the board is suggesting the next superintendent could be signed to a three year contract initially, which he said is typical.

The board should begin the screening process on Feb. 26, with the anticipated hire date for the new superintendent being March 15. That person would begin work no later than July 1.

Dr. Natalie Thomas announced her retirement during the closed session of the Board of Education during the January meeting. She will retire June 30.

Prior to arriving in Farmington, Thomas was co-superintendent of the Riverview Gardens school district in the St. Louis area. She resigned from her post there and relocated to Farmington in the spring of 2010.

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