By Cassidy Pate, News Editor
Former Commissioner of Education for the state of Texas and Superintendent of four districts in Texas Dr. Mike Moses and David Thompson from Thompson & Horton LLP held a meeting to offer updates on the Belton Independent School District’s (ISD) superintendent search process on Thursday. As of now, Belton is the sole district Thompson & Horton LLP is representing, which coincides with their primary focus education and personalized, legal services.
“We will not pick the superintendent; our goal is to help the board with a good process, actively recruit and put the board in a good position to make the best possible decision when that time comes,” Thompson said.
Although it is ultimately going to be the Belton Board of Trustees’ decision, Dr. Moses and Thompson held community-based focus groups, which took place on Wednesday and Thursday. 60 to 70 citizens of Belton were selected to take part in these focus groups and provide their opinion of what Belton needs in our next superintendent.
In Dr. Moses’ words, these focus groups allow for a “richer dialogue” between members of the community.
“We ask for a teacher, a parent, a non-parent tax payer, a business person, a pastor or a faith-based related person, a civic leader; we gave about nine categories, and the reason we like to get a cross-section of the community and not just have all the teachers talking to each other or have all the business people talking to each other…it’s a richer conversation if they’re in groups where they’re having to listen to each other a little bit,” Dr. Moses said. “This is not a sleepy, little community anymore; this is a growing community, and we try to reach out to the greatest degree possible.”
Once this information is collected, Dr. Moses and Thompson will organize the material and deliver it to the Belton Board of Trustees as they move forward with the selection process.
“We did find that this process of these kind of guided conversations actually generates valuable information that boards use as they go through the search process,” Thompson said.
The idea of holding focus groups originated from the need for community engagement.
“We’re trying to help them get good information, get a good pool of candidates, have a good process for them to talk to diverse group of people and try to make a good decision for the district,” Dr. Moses said.
In an effort to further incorporate the community into the superintendent search process, Belton ISD and Thompson & Horton LLP have placed a Community Impact Survey on the Belton ISD website:https://www.bisd.net//cms/module/selectsurvey/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=106, which is open to the public and will remain on the website until Friday, Nov. 15 for those who were unable to attend the focus group sessions.
The superintendent application is open to internal and external applicants, and, as of Thursday, there were upwards of 15 applications submitted. Dr. Moses and Thompson agreed there will be anywhere from 30 to 50 applicants by the submission deadline of Dec. 2.
Dr. Moses added that a majority of applicants will not apply until it gets closer to the deadline.
On Dec. 17, Dr. Moses and Thompson will return to Belton to discuss the applicants with the Belton Board of Trustees and narrow it down to five to seven finalists.
If all goes as planned, Thompson said the timeline will be as such: by the first week of Jan., five to seven candidates will participate in the first round of interviews, and the second week of Jan. will be allotted for follow-up interviews with the candidate’s spouse in attendance. The third week in Jan. will allow for site visits, or an opportunity for candidates to get acquainted with Belton, as well as the conduction of background checks and any other vetting, or pre-employment examinations, to be completed. On Jan. 27, a lone finalist will be announced, his or her contract will be established 21 days later (Feb. 17), and, if all goes well, Dr. Moses said a superintendent could be appointed by March 16.