HR schools hire a familiar face to do search

Board meets on Wednesday with OSBA’s Jer Pratton

Saturday, November 16

A former district administrator will lead the search for a new superintendent for Hood River County schools.

Jer Pratton, working for Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA), will meet with the school board at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to start the search for Jerry Sessions’ successor. The meeting, at the district office, is open to the public.

The school board, meeting in Cascade Locks Wednesday, voted unanimously to hire OSBA to conduct the search. The contract will cost the district $6,200, and the district also faces travel and other expenses in finding a new superintendent. The board hopes to hire a new superintendent by March 2003, to start work in July. Sessions, in his second year with the district, resigned in September, effective June 2003. Sessions was present, but did not speak, during the half-hour board discussion on how to proceed in the search process.

Members of the board leaned distinctly in favor of hiring OSBA and Pratton, who served as an assistant superintendent for Hood River schools in the 1980s and 1990s.

“Jer Pratton knows this district,” said board chairwoman Jan Veldhuisen Virk.

The other applicant, George Murdoch of Northwest Leadership Associates of Pendleton, would have charged $9,000 for the task. Board members said both firms were well-qualified for the job, but OSBA had the edge because of the district’s long-standing membership in the organization, Pratton’s familiarity with the district and the fact that Hood River County would be the only search he would be working on.

Board member Patricia Schmuck proposed, for discussion, that the district initially focus on an in-district search and that the board consider conducting the search itself, but her fellow board members noted that it agreed by consensus at an October board meeting to find someone to do the search. Other districts have self-searched but they had a staff member available to coordinate it; that is not the case in Hood River, board members said.

“We owe it to the district to hire the best possible person for the job,” Veldhuisen Virk said.

Board member Dan Bubb said, “Going on as broad a scope as possible is the wisest decision because it doesn’t preclude us from hiring from within at all. The best applicant may be here. Discovering it that way may be a good thing.”

Board member Susan McCarthy said that if an internal candidate was hired after a broader search, “it would give them a lot of confidence that we looked at the best that was out there.”

McCarthy said she wants the district to expedite the advertising, screening, interviewing and selection process, in part because she wants to be sure it is wrapped up well ahead of the end of the school year. McCarthy announced Wednesday she does not intend to run for re-election after her term expires in June.

“Eighteen years is long enough,” McCarthy said.

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