Okemah Public Schools Board of Education hires outside agency to conduct search for new superintendent

By Josh Allen
ONL Staff Reporter

At a regular meeting of the Okemah Public Schools Board of Education Monday, board members voted to go into contract with the Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA) to oversee and conduct the search process for superintendent.

The position is currently being held by Interim Superintendent Dr. Bob Gragg.

An OSSBA representative presented to the board what she called an “Executive Search Proposal” in a packet, which outlined the ins and outs of the organization’s process.

Essentially, the outside agency will manage applications in an online system, vet applicants based on board-specified qualifications, prepare candidates and the board for interviews and, finally, assist in and support the conduction of interviews of chosen candidates.

“We’re just here to support you through this process,” the representative told board members.

She said the process of finding the right superintendent is a long, serious process.

The basic search, involving, in part, the aforementioned duties of the association, could cost the district about $7,000.

Asked by a board member if she thought it was worth that or if there were a more efficient way to do it, the representative gave a “no” with an element of certainty.

Another question was how many candidates the representative would project for a district the size of Okemah.

“That’s a tough question,” she said. “My hopes are to give you a really hard decision between four to five applicants.”

She did go on to suggest that there would probably be around 10 applicants go through the search, which looks for possible candidates all over the country.

As for timing, according to discussion at the meeting, the OSSBA hopes to have the application process open by mid-November, taking in applications through the holidays, and to be interviewing potential candidates by January.

Board member Patti Miller moved the board go into contract with OSSBA for the discussed work on the superintendent search. The motion was seconded before being unanimously approved.

From there, the next agenda item was “to discuss qualifiertionss and characteristics of the new superintendent.”

Board member Jason Bean said honesty and integrity were paramount in the decision. Board member Jim Bill Copeland echoed that sentiment, adding the main issue for him was school finances and suggested someone with a keen, fiduciary mind.

Dr. Gragg, who is in the superintendent position currently, said the school district needed someone that “will continue to build trust with the community,” adding the new person should “maintain (the district’s) vision” and be someone that would ensure the projects the district currently has in the works see fruition.

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