Four firms short-listed for Wake school superintendent search

Posted May 25, 2010

Wake County Public School System
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— Wake County school board members will interview four firms before choosing one to run their search for a new superintendent for the 140,000-student system.

Tuesday night, the board's search committee pared a list of eight candidate firms, dropping the two most expensive and the lowest-priced one. Consultants that have worked for similarly sized districts before got the most support.

The committee will set up face-to-face meetings with representatives from Hazard Young Attea Associates, Ray Consulting Group, DHR Consulting Group and the N.C. School Boards Association.

The committee will go to the full board next week to ask for a $125,000 set-aside for the search process, though members all said they expect to need much less.

The board is under some pressure to allocate money, select a firm and sign a contract before the fiscal year ends June 30.

The school board put Superintendent Del Burns on administrative leave after he said he would resign effective July 1and criticized a board decision to drop socioeconomic diversity in schools as a goal in deciding what schools students attend.

Donna Hargens, who was the chief academic officer under Burns, was named interim superintendent. The board decided earlier this month that it would conduct a nationwide search for someone to replace Burns and to hire a search firm to manage the process.

The cost of the search will depend on whether the system finds an internal candidate or looks farther afield. Several of the companies that sent proposals separated those costs.

The committee dropped Educational CEO Search Inc., Boyden Global Executive Search, Organizational Capability Services LLC, and Heidrick & Struggles. OCS has a Raleigh office and offered to do the search at cost as a community service, but had little experience with school superintendents, committee members said.

Boyden, at $85,000 plus expenses, and Heidrick & Struggles at $110,000 were the most expensive proposals.

The committee also began compiling questions that members will pose to the four candidate firms at interviews Chairwoman Debra Goldman hopes to schedule during the first week in June.


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  • APXmom May 26, 2010

    I totally agree with i4musicalarts. This is way too important and I can't imagine anyone in the is WCPS qualified to do the in depth research, sourcing and interviewing necessary in this case. I also think this will create a larger pool of qualified candidates and may help to avoid the 'political' hire. Money well spent-absolutely.

  • i4musicalarts May 26, 2010

    Money well spent: With a budget of over a billion, more than 140-thousand students, and 19,000 employees, and assets totaling billions, the school system is a huge business! Whatever headhunter they choose probably already has a talent base; prospects; a list of places to advertise the job; screening mechanisms, etc. Can't go to Monster dot com and expect the school system's personnel department to handle the background checks & screening of whoever will be their new boss.

  • jenniedenton76 May 26, 2010

    Wow, so Burns is getting paid the remainder of his salary for the year while he sits at home and we are spending more money to find a replacement but yet can't people are getting laid off, no wonder!

  • NCwxguy May 26, 2010

    What's wrong with putting out a simple job posting? I'm sure they would get plenty of qualified candidates. Big waste of money!

  • moth May 26, 2010

    $125,000 for a "search firm" ? Your kidding....right? No wonder the school system is broke.

  • AWakeMom May 26, 2010

    "Boyden, at $85,000 plus expenses, and Heidrick & Struggles at $110,000 were the most expensive proposals."

    Wonder how many jobs could have been saved with this money?