HUMBOLDT — A strong leader, honest peacemaker and open communicator are what some members of the Humboldt community are looking for in the next Humboldt Community School District superintendent.
Only four members of the community attended a public focus group meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss traits they’d like to see in a superintendent.
Jeff Herzberg, chief administrator for Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency, is the district’s consultant in the search for a new superintendent to replace former Humboldt Superintendent Greg Darling, who was placed on paid administrative leave in January through June 30, when his early retirement begins.
“I’m trying to get as much input from as many different people as possible in the district, trying to find out those similar characteristics that everybody’s looking for so we find the best fit,” Herzberg explained. “So this focus group is that opportunity for you to help me understand what qualities or characteristics you’re looking for, what do you think the schools need.”
For Brent Kuehnast, open communication is a priority.
“I’ve talked to people from other districts that really the superintendent has a good rapport with the administration, the staff, the parents, and everything just really clicks when you have that,” he said. “I think that’s very important to have that openness and honesty.”
Kuehnast said he also looks for some creativeness in a superintendent.
“I think we’re going to be challenged in the coming years with budgets and I think we’re going to be challenged with how kids learn — technology is a wonderful thing if we use it correctly,” he said. “If teachers and administrators learn how to use it correctly … and the superintendent has got to be a strong leader and set a vision for what that school’s going to be, how they want to look in 10 or 12 or 15 years.”
Larry Leibold, a former teacher and coach in the Humboldt district, asked where Herzberg finds the candidates and applicants for the superintendent position. Herzberg replied that he looks for candidates from his contacts with school districts across the state, as well as reaching out to superintendent licensing programs to connect with newer superintendents.
As of Tuesday evening, there have been 19 full applications submitted for the position, Herzberg said.
“We have a strong pool (of candidates) and I’m very excited about it,” he said.
Herzberg also asked the participants for the strengths and challenges of the district.
“To me, one of the challenges is to make sure we are able to bring our staff at the schools back in and get them moving forward as quickly as possible,” said community member Corey Matson.
Kuehnast had a question he’d like the superintendent candidates to answer.
“I hope during the questioning it’s asked what specifically that person has done to meet the challenges of their own districts,” he said. “What have they done to take a rough situation and turn it into a better one for the school and community?”
Herzberg will continue with the focus groups today, meeting with middle school and high school staff, central office staff, department heads, school board members, high school students, bus drivers and other district personnel to discuss what those groups are looking for in a superintendent.
Herzberg plans on having the school board select four finalists early next week and have interviews scheduled with the finalists for March 17 and March 18. During those two interview days, each candidate will be interviewed by several groups, including high school students, central office staff, administrators, staff, community members and the school board members.
Herzberg and the board aim to have a superintendent selected by March 20.
Though only four members of the community attended Tuesday night’s focus group, Herzberg said community members can still contribute via an electronic survey that can be accessed at tinyurl.com/humboldtsupt2020.