The citizens of Melissa were invited to a public meeting on Jan. 8 to have questions or concerns related to Melissa ISD’s hiring process for a new superintendent addressed directly. The meeting was hosted by Dr. Russell Marshall, President of Arrow Educational Services and Hallsville ISD superintendent Jim Dunlap.

With the MISD building at full capacity, Marshall, who is also the superintendent of Mabank ISD, began the meeting by giving the community members in attendance a brief summary of his and Dunlap’s backgrounds in education and Arrow’s company history. Marshall has been an education professional for 33 years and Dunlap for 45 years; both have helped numerous school districts across Texas and parts of Louisiana select more than 131 superintendents.

Marshall addressed questions and concerns from the audience of community members while outlining Arrow’s role in the selection process their company uses to help match school districts of all sizes with the best possible fit.

"We’re not hired to hire the next superintendent, that’s the Board’s job; we’re hired to make sure the process is smooth and professional and as effective as it can be" said Marshall.

Currently, Arrow is in the process of gathering information necessary to form a profile from both the Melissa ISD Board of Trustees’ and the community’s feedback. An anonymous survey is available on the Melissa ISD website (Melissaisd.org) for district employees and community members to give a detailed description of what qualities and qualifications they would like to see in Melissa’s next superintendent. Specific suggestions for individuals can be relayed anonymously via the online survey or through direct e-mail which is available on Arrow’s website (arroweducational.com.)

Marshall presented those at the meeting with a detailed timeline for the selection of candidates .The application process will end on Jan. 31, after which Arrow will begin the process of narrowing the selection. On Feb. 11, Arrow will meet with the Melissa school board to touch base and further refine the profile; on Feb. 17 it will present the board with the final candidates.

"The applications come to us, we then will interview and talk to people, come back to meet with the board the first time and do preliminary work on the individual candidates," Marshall said. He proceeded to clarify the exact time in which Melissa ISD can possibly have a new superintendent: "We have a first round of interviews, very structured; from there they narrow it down to two or three."

After a second round of interviews the board will name a choice and offer a contract. Per Texas law, the board will have 21 days to negotiate and ask additional questions. The next superintendent will likely be selected by spring break.

The results of the survey and input from the board and community will be used to compose the questions for the first round of interviews conducted. Arrow will match the profiles of candidates with the profile growing district such as Melissa.

"Some people in our business are change agents. Their job is to go in, they bring the knife, hammer, saws and they’re going to build something. There are districts that need that," Marshall said as he elaborated on how Arrow conducts its search for qualified candidates.

Arrow most often selects its possible candidates through a network of contacts within numerous districts and educational institutions built up through their decades of experience in Texas school systems. Using an almost peer based, word-of-mouth approach, Arrow researches the backgrounds of all candidates using any and all information obtained to fit the right individuals with the districts that would benefit the most.

Many in attendance agreed with Marshall that growing districts, such as Melissa, would benefit more from a superintendent with experience in growing districts of similar sizes as opposed to a superintendent from a much larger or significantly smaller district. Larger districts tend to have larger staff sizes to manage the corresponding amount of responsibilities, which defines the level of involvement on the superintendent’s behalf. Melissa’s future superintendent will be much more involved with the district expansion than a superintendent from a district with multiple high schools.

"At the end of the day he [Dunlap] goes back to Hallsville, I go to Mabank; you live with the choices made." Marshall said. "It’s very important to us that we prepare this board properly so they can make an informed choice and get it right. We’re hired for our expertise."

Dunlap took audience notes in regard to the criteria expressed by those in attendance that would make for the best-fit superintendent. The majority of the audience was concerned most with the selection of a superintendent who would be able to best handle the efforts of the district’s expansion and construction projects while still maintaining MISD’s focus on providing an exceptional education to the students.