—by Todd Thorson

The list of candidates for the Roland-Story superintendent position is down to four, as the search committees and the school board reduced the prospect list from 10 to four last week. Now the tough decision of picking the next superintendent will begin, following a series of interviews to be held this week, and concluding next week. The four search committees, including the certified staff, support staff, administrative and parent/citizens groups, along with the board, will go to work on a "scoring matrix" system, which will use five important characteristics that will be analyzed and discussed about, and with, each candidate during the interview process. The board as well as the school principals will also fill out the "matrix" formula. Each of the search committees, as well as the board, will designate a leader to be involved in the actual interviews. That data will then be collected and presented to the school board. The school board will ultimately decide on the next superintendent, and following a final meeting with all three principals, John Sheahan, Kate Hartzler and Steve Schlatter, on Friday, Feb. 7, the next Roland-Story superintendent will be selected at the school board meeting to be held on Monday, Feb. 10.

Current superintendent Mike Billings has been involved in the process from the beginning, but only as an administrative consultant. Mike also plans to be readily accessible upon the four candidates’ visits to Roland-Story in the coming days, and will be the "designated driver" and guide when the tours of each of the education centers are taken . Billings said it was a tough decision to reduce the list to 10, and even tougher to arrive at the prospective five viable candidates. One of the candidates elected to withdraw from consideration upon receiving one of the five finalist positions. Billings also said that a replacement for the fifth prospect was discussed with the board, but the board decided against adding a replacement to the list, stating that the four candidates on the list were viable enough to make a final decision, and that they are all excellent choices. Three of the four finalists, according to Billings, stated that this potential superintendent position is their "destination job".

The interview process will begin on Thursday, Jan. 30, and include the dates of Feb. 3 and 5, concluding on Thursday, Feb. 6. Community receptions, where members of the community are invited to attend, and meet and greet the candidates, will be held for each of the four finalists prior to their interviews with the Board of Education.

Each interview day schedule is as follows: 9 a.m. Candidate arrives at district business office; 9:05 to 9:30 a.m. Candidate meets and visits with Candi Holm; 9:30 to 10:50 a.m. District tour with Mike Billings; 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Interview session with Administrative Team (board room); 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Lunch with Board President (location TBD); 1:30 to 2:40 p.m. Interview with Non-Certified Staff (board room); 2:40 to 2:50 p.m. Break; 2:50 to 4 p.m. Interview with Citizens (board room); 4 to 4:10 p.m. Break; 4:10 to 5:30 p.m. Interview with Certified Staff; 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Break (Candidate on his/her own); 6:30 to 7:20 p.m. Community Reception (high school commons); 7:30 p.m. to ???? Interview with Board of Education

The four candidates selected and their background information are as follows:

Cassandra Murra is currently the Superintendent at Grundy Center, Iowa. She has been Grundy Center’s superintendent since 2010. Previously Cassandra was the middle school principal at Grundy Center, and was also the middle school principal, director of school improvement and a teacher at AGWSR in Ackley, Iowa. Her interview is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 30.

Matthew Patton is currently the Superintendent at Baxter, Iowa. He has been Baxter’s superintendent since 2011. Previously Matthew was the middle school principal at Pella, Iowa, the middle and high school principal at Mount Ayr, Iowa, and the middle and high school principal at Southern Cal in Lake City, Iowa. Matthew’s interview is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 6.

Michael Peterson is currently the Superintendent at Wapello, Iowa. He has been Wapello’s superintendent since 2011. Previously Michael was the middle school principal at Lincoln Central in Estherville, Iowa, the junior high school principal at Slayton, MN and an English teacher at Battle Lake, MN. Michael’s interview is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 3.

Rusty Shockley is currently the high school principal at Central Lee in Donnellson, Iowa. He has been Central Lee’s high school principal since 2008. Previously Rusty was an Ag Ed instructor at Bloomfield, Albia and Goose Lake, all in Iowa. Rusty’s interview is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 5.