The Finley School Board plans to sift through a stack of applications this week to find a new superintendent.
The board has set a special meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday to choose which candidates to invite for interviews. The district's superintendent, Suzanne Feeney, is retiring June 30 after nine years in the job.
The board hired Northwest Leadership Associates, a Spokane-area search firm, to put together a list of suitable candidates.
That process starts with a mass email to about 1,000 people nationwide, said Dennis Ray, president of the search firm. His firm has been involved in about 170 superintendent hires in the Pacific Northwest over the last 11 years, he said.
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Ray runs a basic background check on candidates, but does not suggest top picks to the board.
The Finley posting created a healthy amount of interest. As of Friday afternoon, a few hours before the deadline to apply, Ray had 16 applications to pass on to the board. He expected one or two more to come in.
Last year's search for a Richland superintendent brought in 13 applications, four of which led to interviews, said Richard Jansons, chairman of the Richland School Board. That search was also organized by Ray.
The Finley applicant list includes candidates from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California, Ray said.
On Tuesday, the school board will meet publicly with Ray to receive the applications and ask questions.
The board then will go into a closed session to discuss the candidates' qualifications.
Immediately following the short closed session, the board will go back before the public and choose several applicants to be interviewed.
"We'll narrow it down to five or six," said Chairman Larry Ayre.
The interviews probably will be held in the following week, he said.
The board is looking for someone with a wide range of experience.
"A superintendent in a district the size of Finley has to wear a hundred hats," Ayre said. "In a bigger district, you have an assistant superintendent and a curriculum director. Here, you're it."
The district ideally needs someone who has coached sports before and who has been a teacher and a principal, Ayre said.
"We need someone who can be an athletic director and also understand building maintenance," he said.
Often people come to a smaller district at the beginning or the end of their careers, he said. Both would be fine, as long as the person has the right experience, he said.
This is not an easy time to become chief administrator of any district, with state budgets being slashed. But Finley is in good shape financially, its buildings are well maintained and its bond will be paid off in December, Ayre said.
The senior staff is stable and the next superintendent should be, too, Ayre said.
"We'd like to get somebody who can give us three to five years," he said.