Trustee Sarah Sullivan claps during the school board meeting Tuesday night

Trustee Sarah Sullivan claps during a 2017 school board meeting night in this file photo.

Thom Bridge, thom.bridge@helenair.com

The Helena School Board unanimously chose a firm to conduct the search for a new superintendent at its board meeting on Tuesday night.

The board made a motion to direct Sarah Sullivan, board chair, to negotiate a contract with Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, a national firm based in Illinois. The West Coast Regional Office based in Palo Alto, California, will handle the district’s search. Sullivan will be responsible for negotiating the consultant fee, which was slightly higher than the second firm who submitted a proposal.

Several of the board members knew trustees in other districts that had worked with HYA and said the firm came highly recommended.

“I just saw the two associates from HYA as being the associates I really wanted to work with and I wanted to represent us,” Luke Muszkiewicz, board member, said.

Current Superintendent Jack Copps' interim contract expires next May.

The search process with HYA includes a community survey, interviews with board members and community representatives. The firm said their application process is aggressive and they perform extensive background checks.

The consulting fee paid to HYA costs $21,500. There’s an additional price of advertising the position that ranges from $1,950 to $5,000. Background checks for candidates as selected by the board costs anywhere from $1,105 to $5,000.

The firm provides the board a portal to access all related documents so any request for hard copies will add 5 percent of the consulting fee as an additional cost. The board can opt to provide reimbursements to candidates who travel for an interview.

Ray and Associates, the second national firm, had a consulting fee of $16,500 but had the option for the board to include certain elements of the package and pay an adjusted fee. The firm also would require the district to reimburse consultants to be reimbursed for travel, lodging and associated costs although there were opportunities to conduct virtual meetings.

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