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School Board seeks public input on new superintendent

The St. Croix Central School Board is looking to the public, including business owners, parents and the community at large, to help in the selection process of a new superintendent.

Dan Woll, the current superintendent, is leaving this post in August of this year.

One of the first major steps of the process was underway Jan. 9 when members of the community were invited to attend focus groups at the Middle School.

The focus groups were developed by Dennis Richards, a consultant from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, who the District hired to help in the process of finding the new superintendent.

The focus groups ran from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and were divided into eight groups including: administrators, support staff, students, teachers, business owners/community leaders, parents/PTO and municipal boards.

During the focus groups, Richards asked a series of questions, including what direction the District should go when gathering information about candidates for the superintendent position and what kinds of things should be asked when interviewing candidates for the position. Each group meeting lasted approximately 45 minutes.

Pam Katner, administrative assistant for the District, was in the support staff focus group. She said "this was just one of the first steps for gathering information and then going from there."

Along with the meetings scheduled with the members of the public and school staff, Richards also met with each individual member of the School Board. There was then a "catch-all" meeting at the end of the day for those who were unable to make their scheduled time slot.

Mike Gilhousen, owner and operator of Gilhousen Chiropractic and Health in Hammond, attended the focus groups as part of the business owners forum.

Although he had never participated in such a process before, Gilhousen said he thought the groups were a good idea and a positive way to help choose the next superintendent.

"Personally, I thought it was a good idea," Gilhousen said. "Our District is different than other districts, and it identifies our community's background and demographics to the candidates for superintendent. It personalizes it to the next superintendent."

Gilhousen stressed the importance of having an open line of communication between the School District and members of the community, and that the focus groups helped achieve that.

"It's important to reach out to the community," Gilhousen said. "I'm happy they did it this way instead of going about it on their own. This is the best way to make a decision. The kids are the future of the community"

Paulette Anderson, of the Hammond Art Alliance was a participant in the forums and liked the idea of having an out of town person mediating the event, saying it helped the process along.

"I hope the Board takes this all to heart," Anderson said. "I hope they do more of these things."

Present Administrator Woll says the objective of the focus groups was to build a profile of what the community wants in a candidate, before bringing applicants in.

"It was to use the community's help to get the perfect candidate," Woll said.

However, Woll has no bearing on choosing the next superintendent. He was not present himself during the Wednesday focus groups.

Having put his own three daughters through the SCC District, Woll remains confident in the decisions the District will make when hiring the next administrator.

"It's like selling a house you love," Woll commented. "Even though you love the house, you have no right to tell the new owners what they should do with it."

Woll says to make sure the process remains entirely democratic, he will stay out of the process, only helping as needed, in order to make sure the candidates "come in with completely clean resumes."

"I'm here to help," Woll said, "but I have no personal involvement whatsoever."

The School Board plans to evaluate the results of the focus groups at their next regularly scheduled meeting Jan. 21.