A firm hired by the Helena School District to hire a new superintendent is holding open forum meetings next week to solicit community input. 

Representatives with McPherson & Jacobson, the Nebraska firm hired to conduct the superintendent search, will be in town all week holding various meetings with students, staff and community representatives. 

“It’s organized to reach different perspectives,” board chairman Michael O’Neil said.

At a November board meeting, trustees said they are looking for someone who is well versed in educational issues, especially those that impact learning, and someone with a collaborative leadership style that brings people together.

Board input, along with that with that gathered from the focus groups will drive the company’s recruiting effort, according to Tom Jacobson, co-founder and owner of the executive recruitment and development firm.

Jacobson told trustees that the community meetings will help shape who is recruited. He said those meetings will help the organization understand the issues facing the district and what’s attractive and positive about the schools here and the community in general.

O’Neil said the 45-minute meetings are straight forward.

“They will be asking questions about the attributes about the school district,” he said. “They’ll ask questions about the qualities necessary for the next permanent superintendent leading the schools.”

There are 19 45-minutes focus groups planned Monday through Thursday and a special board meeting scheduled for Thursday night. Representatives from McPherson & Jacobson will give trustees an oral report of what was collected through the four days of meetings. O’Neil says trustees will also create a bank of interview questions at the meeting. And, they’ll vote on weather to pay travel expenses for candidates and their spouses to visit Helena during the interview process.

There are advertisements currently running for the position, which closes on Feb. 22. The pay range for the job is between $135,000 and $155,000.

Helena school trustees expect to have a new superintendent selected before the end of March. The superintendent will replace Dr. Bruce Messinger, who took a job in Colorado. Keith Meyer, who worked as an assistant superintendent in the district, is the interim superintendent.

Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081, alana.listoe@helenair.com or Twitter.com/IR_AlanaListoe

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