Education

Education

BELTON — The Belton Independent School District’s next superintendent may be on duty sometime in March.

The school board, during a special meeting Monday, set a timeline for its hunt for the district’s next leader. They are aiming to have a replacement for Susan Kincannon — now the Waco ISD superintendent — working in Belton ISD by March 16.

Trustees — in a 6-0 decision, with school board member Chris Flor absent — approved a letter of engagement with the search firm Thompson & Horton LLP that details what the district can expect. The fee will be $16,000. The school board hired the Houston-based law firm Sept. 23.

“After we got the oral notice a couple of weeks ago … we promptly posted the opening,” David Thompson, a partner at the firm, said, adding they have received a number of applications of inquiries since posting the job late last month.

Thompson did not disclose how many applications his law firm had received. The deadline for applications is Dec. 2.

As applications are submitted, Mike Moses — a former Texas education commissioner who works for Horton & Thompson — said each trustee needs to nominate nine people to serve in focus groups to gather community input.

“I would say within a week you should have your names,” Moses said. “I believe you’ll be happy if we do it this way because I think participation will be greater, and the greater the participation, the better the feedback you get.”

The focus groups will meet Nov. 6 and 7. Other community members may voice their priorities for Belton ISD’s next superintendent through an online survey that will be available Nov. 8-15.

About a month later, the school board will meet Dec. 17 to identify candidates for interviews.

“This is going to be a very important time for you to think about all the information you received from the focus groups,” Moses said.

The board will conduct its first round of interviews Jan. 6-8. They will then narrow the field down to two candidates who will come back to Belton for a second interview on Jan. 21 or Jan. 22.

“That’s not committing you to say you have to hire one of these two, but probably, if things go well, these are two people who you think might be your next superintendent,” Moses said, explaining that the second interview is more informal and tends to be a dinner with the candidate and their spouse.

Following the Jan. 22 interview, the school board will meet to decide if one of the final pair of candidates is Belton ISD’s next leader.

If so, the board will name the lone finalist — or possibly finalists — Jan. 27.

Trustees will then consider a contract with their superintendent pick Feb. 17. School districts are required to wait 21 days before officially hiring a new superintendent. Robin Battershell, a former top administrator for Temple and Salado ISDs, is currently interim superintendent for the district.

“Works for me,” board Secretary Janet Leigh said of the search schedule.

Moses stressed to the school board that the timeline can shift if needed.

“If this has to change, it can change,” he said. “It’s better to have something on the calendar holding.”

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH

Here is planned Belton ISD superintendent search timeline:

* Nov. 6 and 7: Groups of community members meet to provide input on their priorities for the school district’s next leader.

* Nov. 8-15: Survey available online.

* Dec. 2: Application deadline.

* Dec. 17: The board will identify candidates for interviews.

* Jan. 6-8: First round of interviews.

* Jan. 21-22: Second round of interviews.

* Jan. 27: Name finalist or finalists.

* Feb. 17: Board considers contract.

* March 16: New superintendent on duty.