How will Farmington Schools officials search for a new leader?

Farmington Public Schools trustees last week agreed to distribute a Request for Information (RFI) to firms that may be interested in assisting with the district’s superintendent search.

Dr. George Heitsch confirmed last year that he will retire on July 1. A board subcommittee on Tuesday recommended the district hire an outside company, and subcommittee chair Terri Weems presented a draft letter and potential search timeline.

While officials generally agreed about the RFI, others wanted to slow the schedule, which would have had a replacement on board in July.

“I don’t think this board … has sat down and done the first step of this, which is what is it that we want in a superintendent?” board vice president Terry Johnson said. “That’s why I’m saying what’s the rush? I think we as a board need to come up with some criteria for what we want in a leader. We right now don’t know what we’re looking for.”

Johnson also wanted to see community residents weigh in before starting the search. “One person from the community approached me with… let’s get someone who’s got no education background, just a business background, and we put some people under him that know education. That’s an interesting concept.”

“Why can’t we do both?” trustee Jessica Cummings asked. “Why can’t we start working on what we want in a superintendent and start the process of looking for a search firm? I think we’re capable of doing both.”

Weems, who also serves as board president, said the search firm would help the district with board and community meetings. A draft document that defined the scope of work noted, “The District expects that the successful firm will involve the Board, staff, parents, community and students in the process. We anticipate that the successful firm will hold initial meetings with the Board and selected staff and community members.”

A motion to adopt the subcommittee’s process and tentative timeline failed; however, trustees unanimously supported a motion to draft and distribute the RFI. Heitsch said search firms would have until February 1 to submit a response.

Officials also directed Heitsch to develop a transition play, or “playbook,” before the February 12 board meeting. It will include information about his most important roles and responsibilities and which staff members participate in those activities.

Heitsch said his level of anxiety around transition is lower than the board’s, because all Central Office staff members contribute, more or less, in areas like budget, staffing, and communications.

“We work as a very collaborative Central Office team,” he said.