The Columbia Public Schools Board of Education, with help from the Missouri School Board Association, is continuing its search for a new superintendent of Columbia schools. The current superintendent, Chris Belcher, announced in January that he was planning to retire in June.
The Board began its search shortly after Belcher’s announcement and just closed the job posting February 14. Board President Christine King said there is a total 19 candidates.
The next step in the process is for each Board member to fill out a survey about what they are looking for in the new superintendent. King said the surveys had 22 items, including importance of the selection of staff or the assignment of staff. Each member ranked all 22 items on the survey then sent them back to the consultant at the Missouri School Board Association. The consultant will share their responses to the Board at the next meeting.
“So when we meet again, we’ll actually talk about things that are important to us,” King says. “I think sometimes people think that we should be in the room and do all this as a group first. And sometimes when you do that, not everybody is heard.”
Columbia Public Schools spokesperson Michelle Baumstark says the Board has been very transparent throughout this process, but it will probably share less information as they get closer to making a hire. The timeline is still a little unknown at this point.
The Board and the MSBA will continue to narrow down the applicant pool until they decide how many people they want to interview.
“We’ll make that decision probably within the next couple weeks,” King says.
She also says the Board will host a community event for each of the finalists to meet the public and interact with them. King and Baumstark say they hope to make their final decision by spring break.