Thorough search needed for Aspen School District’s next superintendent

Reading Rick’s article about the superintendent search gave me pause (“Superintendent search for Aspen School District picks up pace,” Jan. 9, The Aspen Times). One word that seemed to be missing from the conversation is competent. While you might think it would go without saying that the board would only hire a competent superintendent, assumptions are dangerous things.

I would have assumed that we wouldn’t hire an HR director with a criminal record and no relevant experience. I would have assumed we wouldn’t have made an unsecured loan to said HR director, but that assumption would have been wrong. Most of the buzzwords mentioned will be satisfied to some degree by a highly competent administrator; what the school district really needs is an excellent manager, not an amazing outdoors person.

I also worry when I see a search firm calling out that it will do background checks. Duh. That should go without saying (that said, we seemed to have missed it in hiring our last HR director, and was our school board fully aware of the circumstances surrounding Dr. Maloy’s employment in Indiana).

Which makes me wonder how our search firm is sourcing candidates. Excellent search firms find superior candidates who are not looking for a new job, but the timeline presented in the paper makes me wonder if Hazard is taking a more passive approach, which risks bringing in candidates who are looking for “new opportunities,” which is another way of saying maybe not the most competent. Lastly, I worry that the time line almost seems more important that finding the right person — for sure, no one would admit that — but such a clear hiring time line risks sacrificing competency for availability.

Board of Education, please take your time, shake a lot fewer obvious trees and make sure Hazard earns their money and find us a number of amazingly competent administrators to interview.

Dan Goldman