The Chimacum and Port Townsend school districts have unanimously chosen a consultant to find a new superintendent.
During a joint board meeting held last week online, the Port Townsend board voted 5-0, and the Chimacum board followed 4-0, in selecting the California-based recruitment firm of Human Capital Enterprises to help the district’s find a new chief of schools.
The boards had three headhunting firms to choose from; Human Capital Enterprises of Palm Springs, California; McPherson & Jacobson, based in Omaha, Nebraska; and Northwest Leadership Associates, of Liberty Lake.
QUESTIONS FROM BOARDS
During the online meeting Sept. 15, school district directors quizzed the consultant firms about the unique prospect of conducting an executive search for two school districts at once.
Human Capital Enterprises submitted an executive search proposal with a total fee of $33,800.
The three-phase search effort includes an initial phase made up of a planning session with the boards, focus group gatherings, and one-on-one interviews.
The proposal was based on a virtual search with no on-site consulting; 45-minute sessions with individual board members, and up to a dozen 30-minute focus groups with district stakeholders, would be done online.
The second and third phases focus on recruitment efforts; candidate interviews; reference checks; the selection and recommendation of top-tier candidates; and scheduling, coordinating and preparing semi-finalist and finalist interviews.
The $33,800 fee does not include consultant travel expenses, advertising, candidate background checks, and candidate travel expenses.
Henry “Hank” Harris, president of Human Capital Enterprises, told board members he didn’t know of any school districts that have partnered in a search for a new superintendent in the way that Port Townsend and Chimacum have done.
Part of the “unusualness” of such an approach was what excited him about the prospect of his company doing the recruitment effort.
Harris noted that working for a small school district is wonderfully rewarding for superintendents.
“It’s a really rich opportunity,” he said.
“I love your part of the world very, very much,” Harris said, adding that it will be a wonderful place for someone to live and work.
“You’re making it very easy for me,” he said.
While he was less familiar with Chimacum, he noted the great attraction the area will pose to potential candidates.
“I know the region well,” Harris said. “And I think it’s an amazing place.”
When asked why the school boards should select his firm, Harris acknowledged that other solid consultants had submitted proposals. He pledged top-drawer service if chosen.
TOP GOALS FOR SEARCH
Obviously, Harris said, getting a great superintendent was “the number one goal.”
“I want board members to feel that this was a really good process,” he added. “Not only did you land on a great superintendent, but the entirety of the process was positive.”
The candidate experience of the process is also vital, Harris said. He said the candidates don’t get a job offer should still walk away thinking Chimacum and Port Townsend are great school districts.
After retreating into a private discussion to consider the consultants, both boards returned to a joint public session to select Human Capital Enterprises.
“I’m excited about the prospect of doing a search with the two boards joined,” said Port Townsend School Board Chair Jennifer James-Wilson.
“Woo-hoo!” someone called out after the final vote.
“Moving forward!” added another.
The proposal from Human Capital Enterprises was at the high end of the three that were submitted, in terms of cost.
McPherson & Jacobson tendered a proposal for a search effort that total $22,050, excluding consultant travel costs.
According to the firm’s price breakdown for its work, the company would charge a fee of $4,300 to meet with the school boards to develop application materials and advertise for the position.
Another fee of $4,300 would be charged for stakeholder input meetings and the start of candidate recruitment.
Fees of $8,700 would be assessed for conducting reference checks, the meeting with the boards to review applicants, identify finalists, and schedule and coordinate the visits of candidates to the district.
Another fee of $1,500 would be assessed for a meeting with the boards to determine performance objectives.
The base total of $22,050 also included $3,150 in expenses.
Northwest Leadership Associates submitted a preliminary cost estimate of $25,600 plus expenses. The fee was based on the cost of doing two separate searches at $12,800.
In its proposal, Northwest Leadership Associates set out a detailed four-phase process that included focus group meetings with school principals, the board and others, as well recruitment efforts, preliminary and final interviews, background checks and work on an employment contract.