School Board Sets Qualities and Qualifications for New Superintendent

Klamath County School Dist.jpg

Continuing the process of searching for the next superintendent of the Klamath County School District, the Klamath County School Board selected a list of qualities and qualifications it will use in reviewing application s and interviewing applicants.

Steve Kelley, the Oregon School Boards Association consultant aiding the KCSD board on the search, said the list of qualities and qualifications will be a guide to help board members find the right person for the job.

“It really needs to ring true for you because this is the lens you look through in the process,” Kelley said, “You really want to get at what is special about your district.”

Kelley crafted a first draft of the list after he and the board held three public input forums and multiple staff input sessions during the last week of November. He also reviewed 150 responses to an online survey that was open the entire month of November. Kelley provided 50 pages of data to the school board from all the public input.

“When I got to the end of this I about had tears in my eyes,” said School Board Chairman John Rademacher. “The amount of work and peoples’ comments … This really got to me. There is a lot of information here.”

At its regular meeting on Thursday, Dec. 14, the five-members of the school board pored over Kelley’s draft and added their own additions and changes. They emphasized the diversity of the district, including both urban and rural schools. Board members want to find a candidate who is fiscally conservative, as well as very involved in the community.

“This was important to be highly visible,” agreed Kelley. “Not just visible like passing through, but to be involved.”

The board is looking for someone who develops good relationships with local businesses and local education partners like Klamath Community College, Oregon Tech and the Klamath Falls City Schools. And they want someone who can work with Klamath County’s diverse communities, including the Klamath Tribes and Hispanic populations.

In the end the board had a page-long list of what it wants in the next leader of the Klamath County School District.

“Does this person exist?” Vice Chair Denise Kandra said with a smile. “That’s asking a lot, that you have experience with all those.”

Board members and Kelley agreed an applicant may not meet all the qualities and qualifications, but it will give them a rubric to choose the candidate who meets the most.

Other steps in the process

The board also took several other steps in the superintendent search process at Thursday’s meeting.

It reviewed the process for compiling the selection committee. Each board member is nominating applicants and submitting them to the board chair on Jan. 1. Rademacher will announce a final selection at the Jan. 11 regular board meeting.

The selection committee will include two classified staff (non-teachers), two certified staff (teachers), two administrators, five members of the public, two district office employees, two supervisors or ‘other,’ and the five-member school board.

Kelley and the board will begin receiving applications on Dec. 22. Applications close on Feb. 16. On Feb. 22 the screening committee will complete training and begin screening applications.

Other important dates are:

  • March:
    • March 1: School board and screening committee select candidates to interview.
    • March 13-15: School board conducts interviews and selects finalists.
  • April:
    • April 3-4: School board and district hold finalist forum including outreach to the public. School board conducts final interviews.
    • April 12: School board votes to hire candidate in public meeting and announces selection of new superintendent.
  • July:
    • New superintendent begins work.

The last item in the search process the board addressed on Thursday was a salary range for the new superintendent. The board decided on a base range of $145,000 to $165,000. Kelley cautioned the board to set a good starting point for negotiating with applicants.

“If you want to attract folks, you want an attractive salary,” he said.

Superintendent Greg Thede is retiring at the end of this school year, finishing a 42-year career in education. He announced his retirement in September.


The successful candidate must demonstrate the following:

 Leadership Qualities

  • Understands the importance of student learning in ALL academic areas and programs (including the fine and vocational arts, special education, alternative education) and the involvement in extra- and co-curricular activities;
  • Provides visionary leadership; demonstrates a thoughtful approach to positive collaborative consensus building when working with diverse groups and individuals;
  • Can differentiate their leadership/management strategies to meet the unique needs of each school and community especially in the rural areas of the district;
  • Demonstrates strong decision-making and problem-solving abilities; able to delegate responsibility to others; can make unpopular decisions when necessary and communicate them clearly;
  • Is willing to work with local businesses and public/private agencies to maximize resources for the school district.

Administration/Education Experience

  • Ability to handle consistent change in education and be proactive in leading initiatives; looks for new, relevant ways to improve education; strong understanding of quality curriculum and instructional strategies;
  • A proven record of successful teaching and administrative experience in a public school district;
  • Experience with rural and/or culturally and geographically diverse communities, including Native American and Hispanic populations is desired;
  • Understands school finance, demonstrates sound fiscal management and budgeting skills, is fiscally conservative;
  • Ability to recruit, develop and retain high-quality staff throughout the district, especially in the rural areas.

Communication Skills

  • Displays a transparent communication style by utilizing all district tools to communicate with students, families, community members and staff;
  • Is approachable, accessible and listens to others with an open mind and accepts differences of opinion; has a strong “open-door” policy;
  • Demonstrates a sensitivity and respect toward diverse communities in the school district while continuing to build positive relationships with EVERYONE.

Personal and Professional Character

  • Shows a genuine concern for and understanding of students and staff, focused on their success;
  • Advocates for students of diverse abilities, interests and cultural backgrounds;
  • Highly visible and actively involved in all schools and communities;
  • Desires a long-term commitment with the district and community;
  • Highly qualified, motivated, and energetic.

Samantha Tipler, Public Relations, Klamath County School District