The Minneapolis school board has paid $149,000 to find the district’s next superintendent, and the bills keep coming in, according to a breakdown of costs provided by the district.
The total cost is expected to reach $200,000, making the search one of the most expensive in the country in recent years.
Last week the board named outgoing Anchorage Superintendent Ed Graff its preferred candidate after a search that has lasted since January 2015.
The typical superintendent search for an urban school district costs between $60,000 and $120,000, according to Michael Casserly, the director of the Council of Great City Schools.
Still, Casserly said the $200,000 figure is not unreasonable.
“The amount that Minneapolis spent on the search is not out of line, given the fact that they had to secure a second search firm and begin looking for a new superintendent from scratch both times,” Casserly said.
“Obviously, if it involves a second search, it’ll cost more,” he said.
Board Chairwoman Jenny Arneson did not respond to requests seeking comment.
The Los Angeles school district, the second-largest school system in the country, spent about $160,000 to find its superintendent last year. Houston, one of the 10 largest districts in the country, doled out about $70,000. Anchorage, a district of similar size to Minneapolis, spent about $80,000 this year.
More than the intended cost
The Minneapolis School District initially expected to spend about $80,000 when it approved a contract for the search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates (HYA) last summer after superintendent Bernadeia Johnson resigned in January 2015.
But the board ended up spending more than double that amount when its initial search did not produce a superintendent. In December, the board selected Sergio Paez, a Massachusetts educator, but rescinded its offer after allegations of abuse at a school in Paez’s district came to light just days after he was chosen.
Before the board voted to withdraw its offer, board members Tracine Asberry and Josh Reimnitz traveled to Holyoke, Mass., to conduct a site visit, at a cost of about $2,000.
The board was then going to give the job permanently to interim Superintendent Michael Goar, but a group of protesters interrupted the meeting. Goar later withdrew his candidacy, citing divisions in the community.
Despite the botched search, the board still had to pay $40,000 to HYA, the search firm. Casserly said the district was lucky to have received any money back.
“It’s pretty unusual that a search firm would either repay or discount a school district if the search did not go well,” Casserly said. “At least the search firm was good for at least part of it.”
Search firm, consultant
The school board vowed to engage parents, staff and other community members thoroughly in its second attempt to find a superintendent.
So it hired a community engagement consultant, which has cost the district $33,000 so far. The board approved a contract for $70,000.
The school board also hired a new search firm, DHR, approving a contract of up to $85,000. So far the district has been billed for $67,000.
Before selecting Graff, board members Rebecca Gagnon and Jenny Arneson traveled to Anchorage for a site visit. The trip cost at least $3,400 for airfare, lodging and a car rental. The district has not yet finalized the cost for incidentals and meals.