Benton Harbor to use firm to find superintendent, but some aren't pleased with the search

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Benton Harbor Schools knows how it will find a new superintendent after the school board approved hiring the Iowa-based firm Ray And Associates to conduct the search.

The firm is getting paid $22,000 for the search and was chosen over another firm with a price tag of $11,000.

The district doesn’t have the money in the budget to fund a search, but the state treasury agreed to pay.

Board members said they chose Ray and Associates because they’ll be conducting a wider, national search.

The Benton Harbor School Board meeting Tuesday started with heated public comments concerning the superintendent search.

“This nonsense gotta stop, and we gotta be about our kids,” said one speaker.

Some people asked why there isn’t an online posing for the superintendent job.

“We have highly qualified individuals who will come back, who will apply, but we are not even considering that,” said another speaker.

School Board Vice President Joseph Taylor said the application is open, but when we looked, we couldn’t find a superintendent listing on the website.

Taylor said the board is required to do a wide search, which is why they hired the firm.

“The board is tasked first and foremost with following superintendent policy among other things we can’t guess,” said Taylor. “This is the law and the law has not been fulfilled.”

But a thorough search brings worries about time.

“I’ve seen national searches take 4-12 months,” said secretary Patricia Rush. “During that period of time, we will have continued instability towards the future.”

Taylor said he can’t put an exact time on how fast the superintendent position is filled.

People are also concerned about starting the school year with no principal at the high school.

“Most people talked about the priority should be the principal of the high school first and the superintendent second,” said Taylor.

The listing for Benton Harbor High School principal job is posted online, and Taylor said he’s hopeful they can fill it before the school year.

He said it’s not up to him, but he did reach out to the former Principal Roger Triplett and encouraged him to apply.

As for the future of the district as a whole, the state is coming out to meet with Benton Harbor for a meeting 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019.