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Waterloo school board hires firm to lead search for new superintendent

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WATERLOO — The Board of Education Wednesday approved a contract with Grundmeyer Leader Services to conduct the search for a new superintendent.

The decision during a special meeting followed a Tuesday work session with Trent Grundmeyer and Roger Wilcox of the Ankeny firm, the board’s top candidate for the process. Superintendent Jane Lindaman announced Oct. 7 that she is retiring from Waterloo Community Schools effective July 1.

“I am confident that this search firm can lead us forward and get us the best candidates for our next superintendent,” Shanlee McNally, board president, said before the unanimous vote. She said members looked into a number of search firms last week and then met Friday in closed session to discuss those possibilities.

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A maximum fee of $17,984 will be paid for the services of Grundmeyer and Wilcox, which includes up to five trips to the district and associated expenses. If fewer trips are needed during the process, $500 will be deducted per trip. The fee is equal to 8% of Lindaman’s salary from a past year.

Board member Endya Johnson said she wanted to ensure the search firm would recruit a diverse candidate pool. Board member Sue Flynn noted that one of the initial questions for search firms considered was about the diversity of candidates.

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“I absolutely believe that they will customize this to Waterloo,” said McNally. “They are going to cast a wide net.”

On Tuesday, Grundmeyer said the search process will begin with establishing a salary range, benefits package and interview process for the position. The recommended salary is $205,000-$225,000, depending on experience. Lindaman’s salary for the current year is $239,700, which was approved by the board in September.

The board will also seek stakeholder feedback through online surveys and possibly hold input meetings to help determine the sort of candidates desired.

“The survey data is important, but you’re going to have the final say on what the application will look like,” said Grundmeyer.

The job will be advertised from Dec. 1 through Jan. 2, although he noted “you could get that posted ahead of Thanksgiving,” giving potential candidates another holiday weekend to apply.

Board members will receive weekly updates including all application materials submitted by candidates during that time. Other background information on candidates that the search firm finds, including through social media, will be shared with the board after the application period closes.

“We will go as deep as we possibly can,” Grundmeyer said, of that background information.

“We’re very transparent about what we see,” said Wilcox, noting the board will see it as well.

In early January, a pre-screening review of the applicants will happen with the board in closed session. Grundmeyer said the pool of candidates will be reduced at that point to eight or fewer semi-finalists. Initial interviews will take place through videoconferencing with the board, narrowing the field to a recommended three finalists.

Waterloo West performs at State Marching Band Festival on Saturday.

Formal interviews will take place during the week of Jan. 24, based on a potential timeline presented by the firm.

“We do strongly recommend bringing your finalists in on the same day,” noted Grundmeyer.

He showed a scheme where each candidate would be interviewed by district leadership, two teams made up of community members and people associated with the schools, and the board. The board would then meet to review data collected from the interviews by the firm and make a decision on which candidate to hire.


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Education Reporter

I cover local schools and higher education for The Courier, where I’ve been a reporter for the past two decades. I’m a Minnesota native and have previously worked for newspapers there and in Illinois.

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