Members unanimously select Ray and Associates Inc. of Iowa

Bill Korach, the longest serving superintendent in Oregon, will conclude his service to the Lake Oswego School District in June 2014.

In an effort to find the best possible replacement, the Lake Oswego School Board has spent the last several months seeking a professional superintendent search firm to guide them in the process — and at a board meeting Monday, board members selected one.

Of the six firms that responded to a request for proposals in December, the board chose three to interview: BWP & Associates of Libertyville, Ill.; Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates of Jersey City, N.J.; and Ray and Associates Inc. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

On Jan. 23, representatives from the three firms convened at the LOSD Administration Building for individual interviews in which they were asked to describe their recommended activities and essential milestones in the new superintendent process, the “valuable perspectives and insights” from their search firms’ experience directly related to the search process for the LOSD and their cost estimates and options.

After considering the responses, members of the school board were to identify and disclose their No. 1 choice at Monday night’s meeting. One by one, with increasing incredulity, each board member gave the same name — Ray and Associates.

Board member Linda Brown articulated just why the unanimously selected firm would be a good fit for the district: “The depth and the reach of their size when it comes to being able to get a wide pool of candidates ... they answered what we asked, and I think it’s important that a search firm actually listens to us and gives us information we’re looking for.”

“They do a lot of work on districts our size,” said board member Patti Zebrowksi.

Both Brown and board member Bob Barman said they appreciated that the Ray and Associates representatives did not beat around the bush about the fact that planning to disclose the names of candidates under consideration might limit the pool of applicants, but being very candid in the initial stages would be beneficial for everyone involved.

“It taught me that it’s much more important to get out to our community earlier,” Barman said.

“They laid out a very clear public process that they were eager to engage in immediately,” Brown continued, “and I think that’s something that our community is ready for.”

Board member Teri Oelrich agreed that Ray and Associates struck the perfect balance of consulting with the school board but taking the reins in the search.

“Two of the firms felt, ‘We’ll listen to you and (let you) design it,’ but it’s like, ‘Well, wait a minute, we haven’t done this in 27 years. We’re hiring you to help us and really lead us,’” she said.

“They were telling the truth,” said board Chairman John Wendland. “It wasn’t a sell job.”

Once a contract, negotiated by Oelrich, Zebrowski and LOSD Director of Finance Stuart Ketzler, is signed, representatives of Ray and Associates will meet with the school board and develop a game plan for the search.

Ray and Associates President Gary L. Ray is looking forward to it. “We’re excited about having the opportunity,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun search, and it will certainly be a challenging search because I know there’s going to be high expectations for the new superintendent.”

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