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Firm hired to help with Mount Vernon search
May 03, 2013 · Ann Gruber-Miller

The Mount Vernon School Board voted unanimously to hire the search firm G. Tryon and Associates, of Johnston, to help find a new superintendent for the district.

Tryon is the firm that Mount Vernon used in their past two superintendent searches. Current superintendent Pam Ewell resigned the position last Monday, April 22, effective at the end of her current two-year contract this June 30.

Tryon's basic fee to facilitate the search is $6,950, the same as it was in 2009.

Tryon's proposal expresses a commitment to work openly and together with the community, saying: "Our approach to the superintendent search process emphasizes the importance of hard work, honesty, integrity, partnerships, and open communication. We believe it is crucial that the board, parents, staff, and community work together in helping to hire a new superintendent. We feel very strongly that the search process be inclusive and as open as possible."

The board saw no reason to switch to a different firm since they were happy with the job Tryon performed for the district in the past.

Board president Darrin Gage said he was happy with the individuals who did the last search and the process the firm used. He said that Tryon's recent experience with Mount Vernon would be a plus.

Board member Tom Wieseler said that during the last two searches conducted by Tryon "the public involvement went really well," so he would recommend using the firm again. Past board member Dean Borg expressed the opinion that Tryon "would have a distinct advantage based on their experience with the community."

Tryon's proposed timeline is to begin in the first part of May and be completed by the first part of June. A detailed timeline will be discussed in a special board meeting today (Thursday, May 2) at 5 p.m. in the district office.

The firm would begin by consulting with the board to set the specifics of the search process, advertising the position and meeting one-on-one with each board member and with district and community focus groups. The firm anticipates that by the first part of June the board and focus groups would conduct interviews with two finalists, and the board would review feedback from the focus groups and finalists and would make the final selection.

Two similar proposals for the search were submitted to the district, approximately $1,500 apart in cost.

Tryon will also charge ten percent for overhead costs and for mileage and lodging, if any. Additional fees would be charged for "optional but highly recommended services" - to be present when the board interviews the five semifinalists; to facilitate interviews between the focus groups and the two finalists and the board and the two finalists; and to facilitate a work session with the board and the new superintendent to discuss their roles and critical issues and set priorities for the beginning of the new school year.

In other action Monday, the board:

• Approved renewing Mount Vernon's sharing agreement with Lisbon for cross country, soccer and tennis for the 2013-14 school year.

• Approved an out-of-state trip request for the high school art club and Spanish club to travel to St. Louis on Friday to visit the art museum and historic sites and to eat in a culturally diverse neighborhood.

• Heard that Mount Vernon will host an RC Rail event, "Tall Cop Says Stop," on Thursday, May 9, at 6:30 p.m. in the District Auditorium.

In addition to the board meeting this week, the next board meeting is scheduled for this coming Monday at 7 p.m. in the high school library.

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