Superintendent search firm says timeline not rushed

The Clark County School Board was criticized again for rushing the selection of a new superintendent at its Monday meeting with Nebraska-based search firm McPherson & Jacobson.

Steve Joel, a search consultant, tried to allay fears by saying that the School Board's October goal for appointing a replacement for Superintendent Walt Rulffes would not compromise the selection process.

"If we don't have the quality candidates, we will tell you that," Joel said. "We're not going to force anybody on you. If they're not there, we'll extend the search. We'll let you know by September."

Many critics of the search process want the School Board to select Jim Rogers, a philanthropist and former chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, who has offered to be superintendent for three years without pay.

"God and Gandhi might not be available, but Jim Rogers is," said Lorraine Alderman, a District D School Board candidate. She said it would be unfair to the next superintendent if he or she is chosen before the November election, which could result in as many as three new board members.

School Board President Terri Janison responded that superintendents are accustomed to some turnover. She said the current board has an obligation to move forward with the search process.

The School Board approved an advertising budget of about $9,000, with ads to appear in Education Week, The Wall Street Journal and on the websites of some professional associations. The search firm is working within an overall budget of about $50,000.

District officials announced the results of an online survey about the qualities desired in the next superintendent. About 5,000 respondents overwhelmingly said they want the next superintendent to have expertise in school finance because of the ongoing funding crisis.

Stephen Augspurger, executive director of the Clark County Association of School Administrators and Professional-technical Employees, said the public's low turnout at town hall meetings and low participation in the survey undermined the legitimacy of the search process.

Noting the firm's lack of experience in working with large urban districts, Augspurger said McPherson & Jacobson must work to gain his confidence.

The search firm plans to meet in July with "stakeholder groups," such as employee unions, chambers of commerce and parents groups, to firm up expectations for the next superintendent.

The finalists are expected to be announced in mid-September. The board expects to make an appointment in October. The next superintendent would "realistically" begin work in January, said Tom Jacobson, the owner of the firm.

Contact reporter James Haug at or 702-374-7917.