School board narrows field of candidates for next Shawnee Mission superintendent, will conduct interviews in coming weeks

Board of Education President Brad Stratton.
Board of Education President Brad Stratton.

The Shawnee Mission Board of Education and their hiring consultants from Ray and Associates are in the process of setting up in-person interviews with a “short list” of candidates to be the district’s next superintendent.

The board spent five hours — an hour longer than initially expected — in a closed session on Saturday reviewing a curated list of candidates from among the 67 applicants for the job.

Board of Education President Brad Stratton told attendees at last night’s board meeting that the candidates the group reviewed over the weekend had been screened by Ray and Associates, with those making the cut thought to potentially fit the profile of an ideal candidate developed by the firm this fall. That profile suggested that “the ability to promote a “positive and professional environment for district employees and [the] Board,” and “inspiring trust, self-confidence and modeling high standards” were the most-desired qualities in a new leader.

In addition to conducting a background check on all the candidates being considered for the position, Ray and Associates contacted their references as well as state officials and school administrators who have worked with them. Stratton noted that the candidates on the curated list presented to the board over the weekend represented a variety of educational backgrounds, administrative experience and locations.

“The pool of candidates also represents diverse demographic profiles,” he said.

The board is expected to complete in-person interviews with candidates selected to advance to the first round in the coming weeks. Stratton noted that those interviews would be conducted in executive session and that the names of the first-round candidates would not be made public “to respect their current employment status.” He did not say how many candidates would be interviewed in the first round.

Once the first round is complete, the board is expected to select a very small field — perhaps two or three candidates — for second-round interviews. Stratton said the hope is to have the second round interviews completed by the end of February. The board could be in a position to finalize an offer to a candidate by the end of March, Stratton said.

“This is a fast-moving process,” Stratton said. “At each of the steps, we want to make sure we’re sharing what we’re doing in this process.”