NEW PALESTINE — If all goes according to plan, the Southern Hancock School Board will name a new superintendent to replace the retiring Jim Halik next month.
The school board has narrowed a field of 20 applicants to five and has conducted interviews with each of those finalists, some more than once.
“We are done with the interview process,” school board President William Niemier said.
Despite that, Niemier said the board is not ready to vote on hiring a superintendent. However, he said it is close.
Greenfield-Central and Southern Hancock both had openings for their top jobs. G-C’s school board voted to hire Harold Olin to replace the retiring Linda Gellert a month ago.
Niemier said SH’s goal all along was to hold a final vote on a new superintendent sometime in May.
“We are 100 percent on course with our process,” he said.
The board expects to soon advertise a public hearing to discuss a contract. The hearing would be held within a week, and a vote to officially hire the superintendent could occur within a week after that.
The district began accepting applications months ago in addition to asking community members to fill out a survey indicating the type of person and qualifications they wanted in a new superintendent.
While two members of the school board, Thomas Tucker and Barbara Snyder, have been through the hiring of a superintendent before – when Halik was brought on board 10 years ago – it is a first for newest board member Craig Wagoner.
“One thing I really liked in the process is that we sought input from the community,” Wagoner said.
He said the board also sought input from key leaders in the school district in helping to make the decision.
“We had some input from principals and others in the central office through the process,” Wagoner said.
Board members say they had a set of criteria heading into the hiring process, which included hiring someone from Indiana and someone with extensive administrative experience.
“We did want someone who had some central office experience,” Wagoner said. “That could have been a superintendent, an assistant superintendent, or it could have been someone such as the position (Assistant Superintendent) Bob Yoder is in with experience in budgeting, and that did help narrow the field a little bit.”
While Wagoner said most people looking for a new position are hoping to move up from a smaller district to a larger school corporation, he said they the board fielded applications from a variety of candidates.
“We had some excellent applicants from people from larger school districts looking to come to Southern Hancock... People are trying to get to a quality community,” he said.
As for Halik, he’s kept his distance from the hiring process.
“Last week, they had some interviews, and I was in Florida,” Halik said. “I have purposely isolated myself from that process the same as I did when they replaced a board member. There are certain things that are a board’s responsibility and certain things that are a superintendent’s, and I know where to draw that line.”
While Halik indicated he has vacation days to use before he retires at the end of June, he is currently fully engaged in the day-to-day school responsibilities.
“I’m not going to be lame duck; I’ll be hanging in here until June 30 and then leave quietly,” he said.
Halik said he is certain he and his replacement will talk at some point, particularly if there are major decisions that need to be made prior to the new person officially starting on July 1. But, as far as he’s concerned, he’s superintendent until June 30.
“...Then, on July 1, they’ll start making the decisions,” Halik said.