McKinney ISD is one month into its search for a new leader after current superintendent Rick McDaniel announced his retirement in December.

With the Feb. 3 application deadline for the position come and gone, here is a quick look at what comes next:
  • Feb. 9: Search consultants meet with the board of trustees to identify candidates to interview.
  • Feb. 15-17: The start of the first round of interviews, likely with five-six candidates.
  • Feb. 23-24: Second round of interviews start, now with a narrowed-down list of candidates.
  • Feb. 27-March 2: Background checks, district visits and final agreements with remaining candidates.
  • March 2: Identification of the finalist or finalists for the position and the start of the state-mandated 21-day waiting period for the start of their contract with the district, during which the candidate will get to know the district and finalize contract details.
  • March 23: Employment contract is approved.
  • April 10: New superintendent assumes position.
This is from the district’s official timeline, which was approved by the board but could change if necessary, superintendent search committee leaders David Thompson and Mike Moses said.

Thompson and Moses are attorneys with more than 20 years of experience in finding new superintendents for a school district—they even helped hire McDaniel in 2014.

“We think leadership matters,” Thompson said. “Over that time, we've probably worked with between 150 and 200 districts to assist boards as they go through superintendent searches.”

One part of Thompson and Moses’ job is meeting with focus groups of students, teachers, parents and business owners to see what they want in the next superintendent.

Two of the biggest talking points were teacher retention and school safety, Moses said.

“It’s very much on the minds of everybody and connected with schools,” Moses said. “How do we keep schools, how do we keep staff, how do we keep kids safe?”

To help get a better picture of what the community is looking for, a districtwide survey was opened from Dec. 16 to Jan. 4.

At a Jan. 24 MISD board meeting, district staff presented the more than 20 pages of survey responses, which the board members were instructed to read through before their next Feb. 9 meeting.

Some questions asked respondents what qualifications the superintendent should have, such as previous experience as a superintendent.

“Ironically, that was not one of the highest on the list,” staff said.

The top three most desired qualifications were experience in improving academic achievement, public school curriculum and increasing the safety and security for schools, according to the survey.

Prior experience as a superintendent is not necessary and can even be rare, Thompson said.

“If you have a problem with retaining teachers, then that translates usually into a shortage of principals which usually turns into fewer candidates for superintendent positions,” Thompson said.

Candidates could also come from outside of Texas, although the search team is not actively recruiting nationally and letting out-of-state candidates find the application themselves.

“Mike and I also try to keep up with people who have experience in Texas, who have worked here for parts of their career who now might be in another state but who might be looking to get back to Texas,” Thompson said.

The next step is a Feb. 9 meeting between the board of trustees and the search committee to create a list of interested candidates from an expected 30 applicants to interview, said Thompson.

“There’s good recognition about McKinney and about this opening,” Thompson said. “I think this would be viewed as a very desirable community to be in.”

More information about the district’s superintendent search can be found at the MISD website.