Green Hills close to hiring new chief administrator

The Green Hills Area Education Agency may be just a week away from hiring a new chief administrator.

The current chief, Lane Plugge, announced last summer that his last day would be July 31.

The agency’s board of directors interviewed five candidates from the original pool of 75 applicants this past week — some on Monday and some on Wednesday — and has selected three finalists it would like to interview a second time, said Dick Christie, lead consultant in the search for Ray & Associates.

“Because we started early, we had a very large pool,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we cast a net as wide as possible and, in fact, we had applicants from across the country.”

The second round of interviews will be held Tuesday with those among the three finalists who are interested, Christie said.

“I’m working to try to get the three back,” he said. “With the three, we want to make sure that all of them are highly interested.”

Marland Gammon, president of the board, said he was pleased with the caliber of the candidates.

“We’ve had excellent candidates,” he said.

Gammon said he was confident all of the finalists would return for a second interview. The board will then decide on a candidate and offer them the position — probably by next weekend.

The search process began Aug. 1, 2017, when Ray & Associates, a Cedar Rapids-based search firm, began working with the board to identify qualifications and criteria to use in the selection process, Christie said.

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Ray & Associates conducted an email survey of Green Hills staff, board members and superintendents throughout the region on what qualities are most important in a chief administrator. About 84 percent of those contacted completed the survey.

Once the opening was announced, applications were accepted through Nov. 24, 2017. From the 75 completed applications received, Ray & Associates chose 14 applicants that best met the qualifications the board had asked for. Board members then picked five for the first round of interviews.

Plugge, previously superintendent of Iowa City schools, started at Green Hills on July 1, 2010 — just after the Iowa Department of Education reorganized the area education agencies and merged AEAs 13 and 14. He oversaw the dissolution of the Farragut and Clearfield districts and the merging of a few others.

The new Green Hills chief administrator will manage a 15-county region of 51 school districts with 44,000 students served by 3,900 teachers and administrators, according to state figures.

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