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Mason gets help in hunt for district schools chief

ERIE - With money not exactly arriving at Michigan schools by the bus load from Lansing right now, the Mason Consolidated School Board has turned to an old friend to help find a new superintendent.

A committee of administrators from the Monroe County Intermediate School District is facilitating Mason's search to replace Marlene Mills, who resigned as the district's superintendent last December.

ISD Superintendent Don Spencer; Elizabeth Taylor, the ISD's assistant superintendent for human resources and legal counsel, and Susan Miller, the ISD's communications specialist, are conducting Mason's superintendent search - for free.

"It's sort of a pilot for us, to see if this is a service that we could offer our local districts," Mrs. Taylor said.

The ISD team will hold two public forums at 7 tonight to get public input on the search for a new superintendent to run Mason. The forums will be held at the Morin Point Fire Station and at the Luna Pier City Hall. Last week, the ISD team held a pair of meetings with district employees to measure what qualities they sought in a new superintendent.

The last public forum will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 in the high school media center.

Longtime Mason board member Kent Swick said the district is likely to concentrate its search in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana.

"That's where we did our last search, when we hired Mrs. Mills, and we thought we had some excellent candidates apply," Mr. Swick said.

The current process is Mason's third superintendent search in nine years, so the opportunity to save some money by utilizing the ISD was attractive, Mr. Swick said.

"It's something new that was kind of developed through our funding situation, which is pretty precarious," Mr. Swick explained.

"Normally, a consultant's fee for a superintendent search can run anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000, depending on how widespread the search is," he said.

While the board searches for a new superintendent, former Ida Superintendent Herb Gabehart stepped into the breach to lend an experienced hand. Mr. Gabehart, who led Ida for 31 years, said he has no interest in the Mason job on anything other than an interim basis.

Mr. Swick and Mrs. Taylor said the ISD will begin advertising the position soon in hopes of receiving applications by the end of the year.

The team will then winnow down the applicants to a number of finalists who will be brought into the district around late February or early March, with the hope of making a final decision sometime in April.

Mason's next superintendent is expected to be on the job by July 1, 2008.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at lvellequette@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.

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