Central Point opens superintendent search

The Central Point School District is hiring a state consultant and gathering community and staff opinions as it begins its search for a new superintendent.

The School Board approved the hiring of Oregon School Board Association search consultant Donna Herren during an August meeting, less than a month after current Superintendent Randy Gravon announced his plans for retirement in July of 2013.

The board is looking for a superintendent with similar qualities as Gravon, according to long-time board member June Brock.

"At this point, we're not looking for a whole lot of changes," said Brock. "We're looking for another Randy."

The district held community forums earlier this week to allow interested community members the chance to share traits they would like in a new superintendent.

A survey is also available on the district website at www.district6.org for those who couldn't attend the forums.

Brock said the board chose to sit out of the meetings in order for staff and community members to more openly voice their opinions.

"We thought it was best if we didn't attend, so people could freely express themselves," said Brock.

Herren will report back to the board the community's suggestions, and the board also has its own wish list for a new superintendent.

"We want someone with a background in education, a sense of humor, and someone who can communicate well," said Brock.

Gravon, who spent more than 30 years in education and seven as the district's superintendent, helped the district's high school transform into three small schools, a switch administration believes has increased student performance.

Brock said the board is looking for a candidate who is interested in small schools.

Herren, who facilitated staff and community input meetings this week, will be paid $135 per hour by the district for her help in finding a new superintendent, a task she has taken on numerous times before.

In more than 20 years of working on executive searches for the OSBA, Herren has helped select superintendents for Oregon school districts with anywhere from 50 to 10,000 students.

"She's very skilled," said Lonn Hoklin, a communications specialist for the OSBA.

Hocklin said the OSBA uses the National Association of School Superintendents to recruit from a candidate pool of at least 2,500 superintendent applicants across the country.

With about 4,600 students and nearly 500 teachers and classified staff combined, the district's new superintendent will oversee five elementary schools, two middle schools and Crater High School, which operates its three smaller schools on the same campus.

Herren is also handling a superintendent search in Ashland, where the district is seeking a replacement for Juli Di Chiro, who will retire in July 2013.

The process to find a new superintendent can take a large portion of the school year to accomplish, according to Brock.

"For Randy, it took months, to work through all the applications and do interviews," she said. "It can be a long process."

The School Board will narrow down the candidates and make the ultimate decision, something three-year board member Brett Moore has yet to experience.

"I haven't done this before. For me, we've always had the same superintendent," said Moore.

Herren will present information she gathered at the community meetings during the next board meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 25, in the district board room.

Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or tristow@mailtribune.com.

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