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McFarland School Board will forgo hiring outside firm for superintendent search, strategic planning process

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McFarland School Board

McFarland School Board members meet Monday, Sept. 13 to vote on the district’s superintendent search and strategic planning process.

McFarland School District has reached a decision on who will spearhead its search for a new superintendent and strategic planning process.

After hearing live presentations from two search firms over the past three weeks, school board members voted Monday night to forgo the hiring of an outside firm and instead have Interim Superintendent Wayne Anderson lead both processes for the district.

Anderson has been filling in as superintendent after former Superintendent Andrew Briddell stepped down in April due to health reasons.

The interim superintendent said in August that using an outside firm could cost the district between $10,000 to $15,000, potentially more. Anderson said in his previous two school districts, he conducted the search for his replacement.

“It’s hard for me to tell you to spend money on something that I know you don’t need to spend money on,” he said. “There’s nothing that we can’t do in-house that they can do.”

School Board Member Christine Pribbenow said she wasn’t fully persuaded by either firm the board met with.

“I was not blown away by any of the presentations,” Pribbenow said. “I think that they all kind of came across and they presented really well, but I did walk away with all of them feeling… a little disappointed.”

Hazard, Young, Attea Associates (HYA) and the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) were the two firms that met with board members.

The district could have a new superintendent hired by February 2022, Anderson confirmed last month, though the strategic planning process will likely take longer than that.

Anderson has described a strategic plan as “a one or two-page document that contains three to five goals [for the school district] that are written in clear, concise and most importantly easy to understand language.”

It would lay the groundwork for where the district wants to be in the next three to five years and how they plan to get there, he said.

Board members said they are interested in starting the strategic planning process before a new superintendent is hired, but waiting to finalize it until after a hire has been made.

For Pribbenow, remaining objective in the strategic planning process will be a top priority, she said.

“My biggest concern is making sure that we go into this process very objective as we talk to the community, parents [and] students so that we’re… replicating what’s good [in the district] and we’re fixing what’s bad,” said Pribbenow.

Board Member Kate Green said having Anderson lead the process may help with that, since he’s only been working for the district since July.

“One of the benefits of Dr. Anderson helping us... is that he hasn’t been in the district very long, so as far as helping to conduct the [superintendent] search and then move forward with strategic planning, there’s not this deep-felt tradition,” Green said.

“We have a really nice group of individuals, all coming with different perspectives, but I think we can all kind of add to that strategic plan and… that’s why I really feel like we can do this. I think we have a lot of good people,” said Board member Bruce Fischer.

Anderson will go over an in-depth timeline of the superintendent search and strategic planning process at the board’s Sept. 20 meeting.

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