WATERLOO — After more than four hours in closed session Thursday night, the Board of Education made its choice for Waterloo Community Schools’ next superintendent.
“We extended a contract offer to one of our four candidates,” said Sue Flynn, board president. “The board is very excited.”
The vote to do that, though, did not include a name.
Under Iowa law, the choice discussed behind closed doors doesn’t yet need to be made public. The board does plan to announce its pick if the offer is accepted, likely early next week.
Names of the finalists were announced Monday after the board last week did videoconference interviews with them and two other candidates drawn from 22 people who applied to lead the district, which has an enrollment of more than 10,000 students.
Those vying for the position included Darren Hanna, superintendent of Emmetsburg Community Schools; Stephanie Jones, Chicago Public Schools’ chief officer in the office of diverse learner supports and services; Amy Kortemeyer, deputy superintendent of educational services in the Iowa City Community Schools; and Jared Smith, superintendent of the South Tama Community Schools. Hanna is the former director of elementary education for Waterloo Schools and Smith, a former East High School assistant principal, grew up in the community, graduating from West High School.
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They all visited Waterloo Schools Thursday for a full day of interviews by four groups – the board, the district leadership team, and two community stakeholder teams of 15-20 people.
“It was very difficult, we had four excellent candidates,” said Flynn. Along with information from the interview groups, the board heard from teachers, other district staff, retired teachers and various community members that otherwise were not involved in the process.
“We got input, we got a lot of emails and calls – all board members did – in support of candidates,” she noted. “We appreciate the input from the community by email.”
Rankings were created based on answers to questions in the interviews, ratings from the groups and additional comments they offered. The board is working with Ankeny-based Grundmeyer Leader Services on the search and hiring process.
“We used that data in our decision along with our personal interviews,” Flynn said. They also discussed candidate backgrounds and strengths as well as the pros and cons of hiring each person. “Ultimately, we were looking for who we felt – along with all the data – could best lead the district going forward and, obviously, (who has) the skill set to do that.
“It was a wonderful day,” Flynn added, of the 12-plus hours the board invested in the interview and evaluation process.
The delay between the offer and possible acceptance allows the candidate to consider whether or not to take the job and inform their employer. If the offer is accepted, the contract will come to the board for approval at its Feb. 14 meeting. The contract would be effective July 1, when current Superintendent Jane Lindaman retires.