Board FAQ

Question Why should our Board use a Superintendent Search Service?

Finding the right Superintendent for your school and community is one of the most important tasks your Board of Education will ever undertake. The right Superintendent provides vital leadership to your school’s faculty and staff, develops high expectations for success for all students, and maintains your school at the heart of your rural community.  

 But, finding the right Superintendent is not an easy task.  Your Board must clearly define the district’s needs, find and attract good candidates, screen applicants carefully, interview effectively, and select with sound judgment and engage staff and community to build support for the new leader as he or she transitions to your district. 

 Fortunately, you can have a partner at your side with more than 40 years of serving the needs of Nebraska’s rural community schools -- NRCSA.

Question Why should our Board select NRCSA's Superintendent Search Service?

 We think we can offer our members and other rural community schools unparalleled assistance in selecting the right Superintendent.   Here are some reasons why:

  • Since 1980, NRCSA has represented Nebraska’s rural community schools.  We understand rural schools, the Boards and Superintendents that lead them, and the rural communities they serve. 
  • NRCSA’s focus is solely on rural schools and communities.  They are the reason we exist and we are dedicated as an organization to serving them as effectively as possible.
  • NRCSA understands rural school leadership from our members’ perspective as Board members and Superintendents.  Our consultants will come to you from a background as rural community school Superintendents.   They know what it takes to be an educational leader in a Nebraska community.
  • NRCSA respects rural schools and communities – you’re more than just a source of dues or fees to us.  You are our lifeblood. 
Question Who are NRCSA's Superintendent Search Consultants?

 NRCSA will provide the services of two Superintendent Search consultants, both experienced rural school Superintendents and community leaders. 

Dan Bird spent 35 years in education as a teacher, coach and school administrator, including 21 years as Superintendent at Burwell Public Schools,  a long-time NRCSA member.  Dan has devoted his career to making a difference in his student’s lives.

Dr. Michael Cunning spent 39 years as a teacher, coach and school administrator, including 30 years as Superintendent at Sutherland and Hershey Public Schools. He was the Nebraska Superintendent of the Year by AASA in 2010 and the NRCSA Superintendent of the Year in 2006. He is Past President and Executive Committee member of the NRCSA organization.

Rob Hanger began his career in Sutton where for 19 years he taught social studies and coached. Rob then served as the Principal and Superintendent of schools in Chambers for five years and has served the past 10 years as Superintendent of Schools in Palmyra-Bennet. As a long time NRCSA member Rob has championed the cause of rural schools with a focus on student achievement.

Jim Havelka spent 27 years as a Superintendent in NRCSA schools, including Rising City, Howells, Dodge, and North Bend. Since retiring, he’s led the Nebraska Teacher and Principal Model Evaluation Project and served as an educational consultant.  He’s a past president of NRCSA and its 2009 Superintendent of the Year. 

Fred Helmink spent 36 years as a teacher, coach, and administrator in a number of Nebraska schools including Norris, Geneva, Polk, Gothenburg, Beatrice, and his final 13 as the Fairbury superintendent.  He is a past president of the NRCSA organization and was also served as chair of the NRCSA legislative committee.

Cynthia Huff spent 30 years as a teacher, coach, Principal and Superintendent in Nebraska rural schools, including Trenton, Culbertson, Stratton, and Wood River.  She is a past Executive Board member of NRCSA and received the 2013 University of Nebraska at Kearney Leaders in Education and Service Award.

Mark Norvell Mark's 42-year education career took him to Walthill, Maywood, and Blue Hill as a teacher and coach, and ultimately  19 years as a Superintendent, first at Twin Valley/Southwest and subsequently at  Fillmore Central.  His service to Nebraska’s schools  also included 11 years on the Nebraska Schools Activities Association's  Board of Directors, and a term as President of NRCSA.

Amy Shane Amy's nearly 40-year educational career started in Houston, TX, but quickly moved to where her heart truly lies -- rural education.  She served as principal for nearly 20 Class I schools and served on the Class I's United Board, prior to taking a principal's position at O'Neill Elementary School.  She finished her 23-year career at O'Neill by  serving as their superintendent for 16 years.

Robin Stevens spent 40 years in education as a teacher, coach, and administrator, including 13 years as Superintendent of Schuyler Community Schools, a long-time NRCSA member.  His experiences not only focus on rural schools, but also on cultural diversity. 

Caroline Winchester Dr. Caroline Winchester served 24 years as a Superintendent, retiring as the leader of Chadron Public Schools.  Among her career highlights are being named Nebraska Superintendent of Year by NASA and receiving the 2019 Nebraska Excellence in Education Award from Cognia.  She has been a member of the Commissioner of Education’s Advisory Council, the Network Nebraska Advisory Board, and the NRCSA Executive Committee.

Question Should district staff and community members be involved in the Superintendent Search process?

 Hiring a Superintendent is ultimately the Board of Education’s responsibility, but involving key staff members and community representatives can provide the Board with valuable insight and assistance in making a good selection.  Some Boards may choose to involve staff and community members, others may not.  For Boards that choose to involve others, NRCSA’s services include helping the Board plan effective ways to include staff and community representatives in the search process without hindering the Board in meeting its obligation to make the final decision.

Question How long will the Superintendent Search take?

 In general, a thorough search can be done in a two-month period of time although each NRCSA search is customized to district needs and may require additional time.  NRCSA’s consultants will help your Board build a timeline, which includes ample time for widespread advertising, review of applicants, and interviews.

Question What Superintendent search services will NRCSA's consultants provide?

 A NRCSA Superintendent Search involves five phases: 

Planning Phase – This phase includes developing a comprehensive plan and timeline for the search, creating a school district and ideal candidate profile, engaging staff and community members in the search process if the Board desires, providing information on comparable compensation, and developing the vacancy notice.

 Recruiting/Screening Phase – This phase include advertising and widely distributing the vacancy notice, actively seeking out candidates that meet the district’s profile, compiling and analyzing applicant data and conducting initial reference checks.

 Finalist Selection Phase – This phase includes meeting with the Board to review all applicant files, recommending potential finalists, arranging for background checks on finalists, and sharing model Superintendent contracts with the Board.

 Interview Phase – This phase involves assisting the Board in establishing interview and candidate visitation procedures, scheduling finalists’ interviews, assisting the Board and interview committees in developing appropriate questions, and working with the Board to establish a means to evaluate each candidate. 

Transition Phase – Once a new Superintendent is hired, NRCSA will work with the Superintendent and Board President to plan desired transition services and to assist the new Superintendent in creating initial performance goals.  NRCSA also offers some optional transition services such as facilitating a Superintendent-Board Planning Workshop.

Question What is NRCSA's process for recommending potential finalists to the Board?

 Ultimately the selection of finalists for interviewing is a Board decision and NRCSA will provide all completed applications to the Board for review.  However, NRCSA’s consultants will thoroughly analyze all applicants’ materials and conduct reference checks.  They will also recommend to the Board for finalist consideration those applicants they believe best fit the district and candidate profiles developed by the Board in the planning process.

Question What is the role of NRCSA's consultants in the interview process?

Interviewing finalists is a complex process.  NRCSA’s consultants will help the Board and its staff and community interview committees (if the Board chooses to employ such committees) develop appropriate questions and avoid illegal or inappropriate questions.  We will also assist in scheduling interviews and developing a means for the Board to effectively evaluate each candidate.  If interviews are conducted on a single day, a NRCSA consultant will travel to the district to assist the Board and staff with the interview and selection process.  If multiple interview days are held, a NRCSA consultant will participate in at least one.

Question Will NRCSA make salary/benefit and employment contract recommendations?

No.  The salary and benefit package is subject to negotiation between the Board and its new Superintendent and the district’s school attorney should be involved in developing an appropriate employment contract.   However, NRCSA will provide information about Superintendent salary and benefits in comparable districts and will provide the Board with sample Superintendent employment contracts. 

Question Will NRCSA assist the Board with background checks on finalists?

Yes.  NRCSA will work with OneSource, a background check vendor, to gather appropriate information on the Board’s finalists. As part of its base fee, NRCSA will arrange a basic criminal background check and Department of Motor Vehicles check through OneSource and provide a summary of results to the Board.   Or, at district expense, NRCSA will assist the Board in arranging for a more detailed background check by OneSource or another qualified vendor with full results provided to the Board. 

Question What about transition services?

 As part of its basic services, NRCSA’s consultants will meet with the new Superintendent and Board President to discuss desired transition services.  It will also assist the new Superintendent in creating initial performance goals.  These meetings may take place via distance technology. 

Optional transition services, such as a Superintendent-Board Planning Workshop, are customized to the district’s needs and a fee for such services can be negotiated with NRCSA’s Executive Director.  These additional services are available to NRCSA members only.

Question What does NRCSA's Superintendent Search services cost?

 All the services listed in the five Phases above, except for an optional more detailed background check and optional transition services, are included in NRCSA’s base fee of $5,500 for member schools or $6,500 for non-member schools. Reimbursable expenses are limited to advertising expenses and consultant travel expenses for meetings in the district.

Question Does NRCSA provide a warranty for its services?

Yes.  NRCSA will work with your Board to make the best selection possible and will stand behind its process. If the new Superintendent resigns because of expressed dissatisfaction with the position or if the new Superintendent is asked by the Board to resign, or if the Board implements non-renewal procedures within the first two years of employment, NRCSA will conduct a new search for reimbursable expenses only. 

Declining to participate in the follow-up transition meeting will void the warranty.

Question Who do we contact?


Contact the NRCSA Executive Director, Jack Moles, at the address below: 

Jack Moles, Executive Director,

Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association

455 S. 11TH St., Suite B

Lincoln, NE 68508

(402) 335-7732 (Please contact Jack at this address for items related to the search service. You can use for other NRCSA business).