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Slow down process to find new state education chief
Sep 20, 2012 | 2548 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Stuart Adams
Utah State Senator,
 Dist. 22
Stuart Adams Utah State Senator, Dist. 22

Like my colleagues, I am also curious as to why the State Board of Education feels such urgency in filling the vacant seat of Utah’s State Superintendent (Larry Shumway, who is retiring). It seems odd that such an important position can be filled so quickly, unless of course they have already made the decision and are simply going through the process for show.

Here is why I find it odd. When one of our state universities selects a new president they spend months in the process.

* Utah Valley University‘s last search committee convened on August 16, 2008. They announced their three final candidates seven months later in March of 2009.

* The University of Utah’s search ended on Jan. 17, 2012, after an eight-month search that began May 17, 2011.

* Weber State University began looking for a new president on April 18 of this year. They still have not selected a new president, but hope to have their final three candidates selected by the end of October. That would put them at a seven month search.

The University of Utah runs with an annual budget of $451 million. UVU’s budget is $153 million. Weber State’s is $123 million.

The annual Public Education budget in Utah is $3.6 billion.

You’d think a statewide superintendent of public education would merit at least as much consideration as the president of a university, right?

Even local school boards spend at least as much, if not more time and effort than the state does in selecting new superintendents. Provo School District spent more than four months and hired a headhunter to find their new superintendent. Park City School District’s superintendent Ray Timothy has submitted his resignation, but the board has decided that it will be next year before they hire a replacement because it “does not feel it has sufficient time between now and the November election to conduct a thorough nation-wide search.”

Both of these districts felt it was necessary to conduct a national search to look for the best of all possible candidates.

However, the State Board of Education has fast-tracked the process. They think that $1,200 is too much to spend on national advertising and so they have limited their search net to a few online postings and an email to about 25 agencies and organizations. Mind you, the person who is selected to do this job will control Utah’s $3.6 billion education budget. The University of Utah spent eight months to find someone they felt was qualified to manage $435 million. But $1,200 is too much to spend to try and find qualified applicants?

For more information check out the Sept.20 edition of Davis Clipper. 

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