Board to interview semifinalists for Mehlville superintendent post

Sixteen applicants narrowed down to seven semifinalists

Brent Underwood

Brent Underwood

By Gloria Lloyd

The Mehlville Board of Education will interview semifinalists for the district’s open superintendent position this weekend, and the board’s superintendent-search consultant is excited about the field of candidates he and the board have to choose from.

Board members collaborated with Missouri School Boards’ Association, or MSBA, search consultant Brent Underwood, a former south area superintendent at Mehlville, to narrow the field of 16 candidates down to seven semifinalists after he interviewed some of the 16 applicants for the Mehlville position over the holidays.

With seven semifinalists selected, now comes the hardest aspect of the search: identifying who fits best in Mehlville, Underwood said. The board still has a target hiring date of sometime in February.

“There’s no question we’ve got a strong, qualified field,” he said. “I have every confidence that all off them could be successful, but finding who is right for Mehlville — that’s the art of it, not the science of it.”

Of the 16 applicants for the Mehlville position, six are current superintendents and eight are assistant superintendents, with two other applicants coming from other areas of Central Office. Candidates applied from four states other than Missouri, mostly in the Midwest but also from as far away as Wyoming, with most of the candidates local to the St. Louis region, Underwood said.

Underwood has conducted superintendent searches since he retired as the superintendent of the Webster Groves School District in 2009. He said that all but five of the candidates were familiar to him either through his time as a superintendent or his subsequent superintendent searches.

Out of the 16 initial applicants, 13 are men and three are women, and 14 are white and two are black.

Of the seven semifinalists the board will interview in person this weekend, three are current superintendents and four are assistant superintendents. A few of the prospective Mehlville superintendents are also currently being considered for other superintendent positions, so the number of semifinalists could change if one of the candidates accepts a job offer from another district, Underwood noted.

The board’s interviews with semifinalists are set for Saturday, Jan. 24, and Monday, Jan. 26. The board has not yet made any decisions on how it will handle the process for finalists or the final superintendent selection itself. Some districts announce finalists publicly and/or hold public forums so residents can ask the candidates questions, while others keep finalist names secret.