The Omaha school board plans to hire a national consultant to help find a new superintendent for the Omaha Public Schools.
The board also plans to set up a temporary subcommittee of board members that will do much of the research involved in the search, Sandra Jensen, board president, said after the board held a special meeting Monday to discuss the opening.
It was the first board meeting since Superintendent John Mackiel, 61, announced last week that this would be his last school year. His retirement will be effective August 2012.
“We would be in error if we did not use a consultant to help us see the bigger picture,” said board member Barbara Velazquez.
After about 10 minutes of discussion Monday, the board voted 11-1 to go into executive session with its attorney, Elizabeth Eynon-Kokrda, to discuss the legal framework of a search.
Board member Justin Wayne dissented. Wayne declined to comment on his vote after the meeting.
The board came out of executive session after about 90 minutes and voted unanimously to use a consultant in the search and to establish the board subcommittee.
Jensen said the subcommittee is expected to have as many as six board members, though they haven't been chosen yet.
“The subcommittee will do whatever the full board will direct it to do,” Jensen said.
Its first task likely will be to research possible consulting firms to help the board with the search process, she said. The board did not specify how much a consultant could be paid.
Board members also said they plan to seek public input and estimated the search could be at least a four-month process.
Ernie Boykin, vice president of the Omaha Schools Foundation, told the board that she hasn't always supported Mackiel's decisions but that he has been honest, consistent and fair — three qualities she wants OPS's next superintendent to have as well.
“The one thing that we want to be sure is that we have the biggest pool of really high-quality candidates to choose from,” Jensen said. “It's going to be a community-engagement process.”
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