Lindbergh board concludes interviews with superintendent semifinalists

Board president impressed with caliber of candidates

Jim Sandfort

Jim Sandfort

By MIKE ANTHONY

The Lindbergh Board of Education has concluded its interviews with 10 semifinalists for the district’s superintendent’s post and selected an undisclosed number of finalists, according to President Mark Rudoff.

The district received 57 applications to fill the superintendent’s post being vacated by Jim Sandfort when he retires at the end of the current school year, and board members in late January narrowed down the list of candidates to 10 semifinalists from the states of Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.

“We’ve concluded the interview process and we’ve narrowed the field down. We’re going to begin looking at conducting site visits and attempt to identify a finalist,” Rudoff told the Call Sunday. “We’re very excited about the final candidates that we’ve interviewed and how we’ve narrowed the field. While we don’t have a specific timetable, subject to the weather and candidate and board-member availability, we certainly would like to try if at all possible to wrap this up before the end of the month of February.”

Sandfort, who announced in April 2006 that he would retire at the end of the 2007-2008 school year, has served as superintendent since 1991 — the longest tenure in the same school district of any superintendent in St. Louis County.

To assist in the search to replace Sandfort, the Board of Education voted unanimously in February 2007 to approve a contract with Ray and Associates of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The final cost for the search firm’s services will be $15,000, with a maximum of $6,000 for reimbursed expenses.

Board members met with representatives of Ray and Associates during a Jan. 28 closed session and narrowed down the list of candidates to the 10 semifinalists.

The board began interviewing the semifinalists during a closed session Feb. 2 at the Hilton St. Louis Frontenac and concluded the interviews Saturday, according to the board president.

“… While we are not trying to keep our constituents in the district in the dark, we are very concerned and are very cognizant of the need to maintain the confidentiality of the interest of the candidates who have expressed a desire to be the Lindbergh superintendent,” Rudoff said. “We want to make sure that their confidentiality is protected. At the end of the day, there’s only going to be one successful candidate and we don’t want to put those that have expressed their interest in a bad way with their home district right now.”

Superintendent candidates were evaluated and screened based on administrative experience, academic background and the qualities and criteria determined by the school board and submissions by community-interest groups, ac-cording to a recent news release issued by the school district.

The new superintendent will receive a compensation package, including salary and benefits, in the range of $210,000. The final salary will be negotiated and determined based upon the candidate’s proven experience, qualifications and ability to meet criteria established by the board.

Sandfort is being paid $197,938 for the 2007-2008 school year.

He also receives additional benefits, including paid family insurance and a monthly travel allowance.

Sandfort has been involved in school administration for roughly 35 years.

Besides his tenure in Lindbergh, he served as an assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction and administrative services at the Parkway School District for five years, as a high-school principal in Shawnee Mission East High School in Kansas for 14 years and as an associate principal in instruction at Shawnee Mission South High School in Kansas for one year.

“At some point in time once the final candidate is named, the board is going to endeavor to make sure that we have an opportunity as soon as possible for members of the Lindbergh community and the community at large to be able to sit down and at least meet our new superintendent,” Rudoff said. “So we’re going to try to do a public reception as early as practical …

“I can’t tell you how excited and pleased we are with the caliber of the candidates we’ve had an opportunity to consider and interview,” he added.