The Neosho community had the chance to give their input in the district's superintendent search on Thursday night, though few chose to seize that opportunity.

The Neosho community had the chance to give their input in the district's superintendent search on Thursday night, though few chose to seize that opportunity.

John Boise, consultant with the Missouri School Boards' Association, hosted the forum to learn what characteristics Neosho residents would like to see their next superintendent possess.

The district is using MSBA's superintendent search service to find a replacement for former superintendent Richard Page, who left the district in June to take a superintendent position in the Gravette, Ark. school district.

Alma Stipp was hired to take over the position for a one-year term, which expires July 1, 2013.

Boise said the position was listed Oct. 1 and will stay open until Oct. 31. At that time he will gather the applications, and allow board members time to review them. Once board members have narrowed down the pool of candidates, the interviewing process will begin. Boise said he expects application reviews to take place the second half of November.

Boise said the board would also be provided with an in-depth look at the background of the applicants.

"We try to do a pretty good job of letting the board know everything about them," Boise said. "If they had a DWI 10 years ago, we know about it, we'll tell them and let the board decide what that's worth."
Boise said the average number of candidates interviewed is usually four to six, though that will ultimately be up to the board of education to decide.

Board members hope to have identified the successful candidate by Christmas, though Boise said that date is tentative.

Still, he said the district's timing in performing the search is ideal.

"I think they're very lucky to start this search early because you really have the pick of the pool of candidates," Boise said.

Susan Armstrong, a Neosho parent, expressed her desire at Thursday's forum that the future superintendent forge a strong relationship between the community and the school district.

"I would want someone who is willing to invest himself in the community as well as the school," Armstrong said. "The community and the school need to be tied together. Right now they're two separate entities. The community at large is 'I don't have anything to do with the school'. We need to bring them back in."

Gib Garrow, economic development director for the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce, said it is also important that the incoming superintendent maintain a strong relationship between the schools and Neosho business community.

"I think that this community is very diversified in industry and business and the school has a great relationship with business and industry and always has had," Garrow said.

Garrow also noted that an applicant with a diversified background, including private sector experience, would fit in nicely to the Neosho community.

Cindy Norman, who served on the school board for six years, said when selecting the future superintendent it is important to keep in mind the conservative nature of Neosho.

"Neosho is a fairly conservative community and conservative financially, one of the lowest levies around," Norman said. "Our population has trouble supporting tax raises and so forth, so we need somebody who's creative with finances."

The school board voted to enlist MSBA's search services in their June school board meeting, at a cost of eight percent of the superintendent's starting salary, as well as an expense account not to exceed $1,500.

Brett Day, board president, has expressed on numerous occasions the importance of the school board's superintendent selection.

Boise echoed the board's statements Thursday night.

"They've told me to go find the best person that you can," Boise said. "They've used the term 'we're wanting to hit a homerun'."

For those who would like to share their input, and were unable to attend Thursday's community forum, Boise has provided short survey forms to the district's schools. The forms are also available on the school district's website.

Boise said, as of Thursday, 12 candidates have collected applications to apply for the Neosho R-5 position.

The successful candidate will start with the district July 1, 2013.