Recruiting a Director of Education: A Guidebook for Boards of Education

By: Loraine Thompson Information Services

SSTA Research Centre Report #02-02: 55 pages, $14.

Table of Contents



  • Purpose of This Guidebook
  • Organization of This Guidebook

  • Legal Requirements
  • Executive Responsibility
  • Duties of the Director of Education
  • Qualifications of Director of Education
  • Recruitment Requirements
  • Contractual Requirements
  • Requirements to File Contracts

  • Part 1 – Planning
  • Assign Responsibilities
  • Establish a Budget
  • Set the Stage
  • Review the Vision, Mission and Goals of the School Division
  • Develop a Job Description for the Director of Education
  • Be Aware of Potential Problems
  • Conflicts of Interest

  • Pressure From Candidates
    Part 2 – Recruiting
  • Decide on Criteria
  • Minimum Legal Requirements
  • Professional Criteria
  • First Nations Experience
  • Financial Management Skills
  • Personnel Management Skills
  • Educational Leadership Skills
  • Personal Characteristics
  • Criminal Records Check
  • Critical Factors
  • Organize the Job Ad
  • Decide Who Will Write the Job Ad
  • Write the Job

  • Place the Job Ad
  • Widen the Job Search
  • Handle Applications
  • Overview

    The development of this resource was commissioned by the Saskatchewan School Trustees Association. 

    Most boards of education have limited experience with selecting a new director of education, as this process occurs relatively infrequently.  Selecting a director, the chief executive officer of the board, is the most important decision a board of education makes. This guidebook is a resource for boards of education describing effective practices, processes and key questions within the legal requirements of Saskatchewan.  Key sections of the guidebook include: 

    • What prior planning is necessary to set the stage for recruiting?
    • What are the essential tasks in the recruiting process?
    • What follow up actions are required to bridge the transition?
    Sample forms and checklists are included in the guidebook.

  • Screen Applicants
  • Interview Candidates
  • The Selection Panel
  • The Interview
  • Other Input to the Selection Process

  • Making a Decision
    Part 3 – Following Up
  • Inform the Successful Candidate and Negotiate a Contract
  • Inform the Successful Candidate
  • Negotiate the Contract of Employment
  • Make a Formal Offer of Employment
  • File the Contract with Pension Plans
  • Inform Unsuccessful Applicants
  • Announce the Appointment
  • Orient the New Director of Education

  • Recruiting a Director of Education, Summary Checklist
  • Planning
  • Recruiting
  • Following Up

  • Appendices
  • Appendix 1:   Sample Job Ads
  • Appendix 2:  Reference Checklist
  • Appendix 3:  Director of Education Sample Interview Questions
  • Appendix 4:   Director of Education Candidate Observation Sheet
  • Appendix 5:   Director of Education Sample Contract of 

  • Employment

    Back to: Governance

    The SSTA Research Centre grants permission to reproduce up to three copies of each report for personal use. Each copy must acknowledge the author and the SSTA Research Centre as the source. A complete and authorized copy of each report is available from the SSTA Research Centre.

    The opinions and recommendations expressed in this report are those of the author and may not be in agreement with SSTA officers or trustees, but are offered as being worthy of consideration by those responsible for making decisions.


    The Saskatchewan School Trustees Association would like to thank all the individuals who contributed to this publication.

    Preliminary Research and Writing

    A preliminary version of this guidebook was developed by Saskatchewan’s Regional Directors of Education.  The Saskatchewan School Trustees Association would like to express its thanks and sincere appreciation to the Regional Directors for their very significant contribution to this project.


    Loraine Thompson, Loraine Thompson Information Services Limited, Regina
    401 – 2305 Victoria Avenue
    Regina, Sk
    S4P 0S7

    Advisory Committee

    Table of Contents


    Purpose of This Guidebook

    This guidebook is written for boards of education.  It describes the process of recruiting and hiring a director of education.  This process will vary somewhat from one board to another, depending on the size and type of school division, the specific situation and the approach the board wishes to take.  Therefore, this guidebook outlines options and alternatives.  It is a source of ideas rather than a prescription.

    Selecting a director of education is perhaps the most important decision a board of education makes.  The director becomes the CEO and is responsible for ensuring that the board’s policies are implemented as the board intended.

    Most boards have limited experience with selecting a director of education, as this process occurs relatively infrequently.  Some board members may not have participated in a search for a director before.  However, the need to hire a director of education may arise suddenly. If the current director of education leaves for a new job or becomes ill, you may have little notice.  Only if the current director gives several months notice prior to retirement will you have lots of time to plan your strategy.

    Therefore, it is a good idea to develop a contingency plan.  If your director of education resigns, what will you do first?  What will you do second?  How will you plan for and organize recruitment?  It is also a good idea to set money aside to cover the costs of recruitment or identify an emergency fund that can be tapped in case you are suddenly faced with this expense.

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    Organization of This Guidebook

    This guidebook begins with a section on the legal requirements relating to recruiting and hiring a director of education.  Next come three sections that cover the three stages of the process:  planning, recruiting and following-up.

    A checklist at the end of this guidebook summarizes all the significant steps and considerations during recruitment of a director of education.

    This guidebook concludes with an appendix that provides sample job ads, sample interview questions and other supplementary material.

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    Legal Requirements

    The Education Act, 1995 and its regulations set out certain legal requirements that apply to the recruiting of directors of education and to the qualifications and duties of directors of education.  These legal requirements fall into the six categories below: These legal requirements are discussed in more detail in the sections that follow.

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    Executive Responsibility

    Boards of education are required to appoint a director of education who is designated as the chief executive officer of the board.  The Education Act, 1995 states:
    The Education Act, 1995
    107(1) … every board of education and every conseil scolaire shall appoint a director who meets the qualifications prescribed by the regulations.
    108(1) A board of education shall designate the director as the chief executive officer of that board of education.

    The Act permits small school divisions to appoint a director of education jointly with another school division, or to hire a part-time director of education.

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    Duties of the Director of Education

    Section 109 of The Education Act, 1995 specifies that the responsibilities of the director are prescribed by the board of education that hired her or him.  The Act also says that directors have certain legal duties in addition to the responsibilities assigned by the board.  These duties are to:

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    Qualifications of Director of Education

    Candidates for the job of director of education must meet both the requirements of the Regulations to the Education Act and the requirements of LEADS.

    Requirements of the Regulations to The Education Act

    Regulation (5) of the Regulations to the Education Act specifies the minimum qualifications that a director of education must have.  These are:

    People who were employed as a director of education in Saskatchewan on or before December 31, 1978 are not required to meet the requirements above.

    Requirements of LEADS

    In order to be employed as a director of education an individual must be eligible for membership in LEADS (The League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents).  The LEADS membership requirements are:

    For more information about LEADS, its membership requirements and its role, go to the LEADS website.

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    Recruitment Requirements

    Regulation 6(1) of the Regulations to The Education Act sets out some requirements relating to recruitment.  Boards of education must:

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    Contractual Requirements

    Regulation 6(2) of the Regulations to The Education Act states that the director of education must be hired under a written contract specifying the terms of employment and the procedure for review and termination of the contract.

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    Requirements to File Contracts

    Regulation 7.1(1) of the Regulations to The Education Act requires that the person you hire files copies of all contracts of employment and subsequent amendments and revisions with the Teachers’ Superannuation Commission or the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Retirement Plan (whichever applies).  This must be done within 30 days of the date on which the contract comes into effect.  In some cases, the board of education files the contract of employment on behalf of its employee.

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    Part 1 - Planning

    Laying the groundwork before you begin searching for a director of education will help ensure that the process goes smoothly.  Tasks at the planning stage include: Each of these tasks is discussed in more detail in the sections that follow.

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    Assign Responsibilities

    It is the board of education’s responsibility to hire a new director of education.  Boards of education frequently delegate some of the tasks in the selection and hiring process, but regardless of how little or how much authority they delegate, the board of education is legally and ethically responsible for the outcome.

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    Assign Responsibilities

    It is estimated that recruiting a director of education takes 50 to 80 hours of work.  The exact amount of time needed depends on the situation, and the number of applications received.  One of the first tasks for a board of education is to decide who will do this work.  Boards of education can use resources within the education system, rely on fee-for-service options, or use a combination of both.

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    Options Within the Education System

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    Fee-for-Service Options

    When considering fee-for-service options remember that cost is not necessarily an indicator of quality.  Large firms may charge more because they have more overhead, but may not provide better or more appropriate service than consultants who work out of their homes.

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    Organize the Work

    You can choose one of the options listed previously to get the work done or combine several options.

    Regardless of which option or combination of options you choose:

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    The Role of the Current Director of Education

    In most cases, the current director of education plays no role in recruiting, selecting and hiring a new director of education.  Some boards of education decide to review their direction at this time to consider the type of leadership needed for the direction they wish to follow in the future.  Once a director of education is hired, the previous director of education can play an important role by making her/himself available to answer questions and provide information as needed.

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    Establish a Budget

    You might conduct your search using options within the education system, or you might hire an executive search firm or a consultant to do some or all of the work.  Regardless of which option you choose, you will need a budget for the recruiting process.  Typically, the recruitment process costs between six months and one year of the director’s salary.  If you work with a fee-for-service consultant, expect to pay professional fees.  Questions to consider about professional fees include: Regardless of whether you use resources within the education system or a fee-for-service option, you will need to budget for:

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    Set the Stage

    Review the Vision, Mission and Goals of the School Division

    Statements of vision, mission and goals are important for every school division because they provide a framework for school division policies and decision making.  These tools are important during the search for a new director of education because: Reviewing the vision, mission and goals of your school division before starting the search for a new director of education will help ensure that you hire a person whose vision for the school division is consistent with the board’s.

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    Develop a Job Description for the Director of Education

    The Education Act, 1995 provides a basic description of the duties and responsibilities of the director of education.  It also provides lots of room for board initiative since it says that, subject to the legal requirements, “The duties and powers of a director shall be prescribed by the board of education.”

    If you don’t have a job description for the director of education, develop one before you begin recruiting.  If you have an existing job description, update it to be sure it is current and relevant.  The SSTA will assist with this process if you wish.

    A current job description is crucial when you are hiring a director of education for two reasons:

    After an applicant is hired, the job description will form part of the evaluation process.  The director of education’s performance will be evaluated in terms of the job description.

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    Be Aware of Potential Problems

    Two problems that sometimes arise during the search for a new director of education are: Each of these potential problems is discussed in more detail below.

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    Conflicts of Interest

    A conflict of interest arises when one of your family members or a close friend applies for the position of director of education.  A family member includes spouse, ex-spouse, children, step-children, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, etc.  A close friend is someone you see regularly, socialize with and feel some closeness to.

    If a family member or close friend applies for the job of director of education, your only option is to declare a conflict of interest and excuse yourself completely from any further participation in selection and hiring.  In addition, ask that your fellow board members not give you information about how the process is going.  It is best to completely remove yourself from the recruitment process.

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    Pressure From Candidates

    Occasionally job applicants will contact members of the board individually and try to influence them.  Job applicants may phone, outline their qualifications and ask for your support.  They might send written material or gifts to your home address or ask you out for a meal.

    If an applicant phones you, tell them that you are not able to accept any information outside of the formal process that has been established by the board and politely terminate the conversation.  Refuse invitations for meals and return any gifts that may be sent.

    Report any such attempts to influence to the rest of the board when you are reviewing an applicant’s suitability.

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    Part 2 - Recruiting

    Recruiting a director of education involves the following six tasks: These tasks are discussed in more detail in the sections that follow.

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    Decide on Criteria

    Before you write a job ad or begin any other recruiting activities, decide on the characteristics you want the director of education to have and the criteria you will use for selection.  These criteria will influence the way the job ad is worded, provide a framework for preliminary screening of applicants, and be used during interviews of the applicants who are short-listed.

    Minimum Legal Requirements

    The minimum legal qualifications for directors of education and the requirement for membership in LEADS are given earlier in this guidebook in the section called, “Legal Requirements”.  Most boards of education establish criteria in addition to minimum legal requirements.  These additional requirements usually fall into eight categories: Each of the eight categories of requirements is discussed below.

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    Professional Criteria

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    First Nations Experience

    If your school division has Aboriginal students or if your school division contracts with nearby First Nations to supply educational services, some of the criteria below may be appropriate.

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    Financial Management Skills

    The director of education will be working with the board each year to establish and administer the budget.  The director must be able to set program priorities and allocate funds in order to achieve the desired results.  The director should also understand the complexities of educational funding in Saskatchewan and be able to read financial statements.

    Look for an applicant who has previous experience administering budgets and/or graduate courses in budget management.

    The director of education does not need experience and/or courses in accounting or bookkeeping.  Day-to-day financial record-keeping is the responsibility of the secretary-treasurer.  The director of education’s job is to ensure the money is spent in a way that reflects the board’s educational priorities.

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    Personnel Management Skills

    Personnel management has two components:  the director’s interpersonal style when working with others and technical skills.

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    Educational Leadership Skills

    The board of education creates a vision for education in the school division.  It is the director of education’s job to bring that vision into reality.  The director of education must be able to: A good director of education also has knowledge of educational topics and issues like:

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    Personal Characteristics

    Many boards of education look for certain personal characteristics in a director of education. Some of the more common personal characteristics expected are:

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    Criminal Records Check

    Some school divisions require that potential candidates for the position of director of education undergo a criminal records check and that they have a criminal record acceptable to the board.  Contact your local RCMP or city police for information about getting a criminal records check.  A fee is sometimes charged for this service.  Usually, the applicant pays this fee, not the board of education.

    Boards of education and other employers will sometimes accept applicants with a minor criminal record, for example, shoplifting as a teenager.  However, most will not accept applicants with any type of serious offence or any type of offence involving violence, exploitation or sexually inappropriate behaviour with children or teens.

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    Critical Factors

    The previous six pages of these guidelines identify many types of knowledge, skills and personal characteristics that are desirable in a director of education.

    Few applicants will meet all of these criteria.  Therefore, it is a good idea to identify critical factors – the four or five skills and attributes that a director of education absolutely must have to be effective in your school division.  When you are considering candidates, you can review each candidate’s qualifications against your critical factors.  Any candidates who lack one or more of the critical factors would be unsuitable.

    Critical factors will vary from one board of education to another.  For example, if you have many Aboriginal students in your school division or if you contract services to a First Nation, First Nations experience would probably be a critical factor.  If your school division is in the middle of implementing many new educational programs, strong educational leadership skills would be a critical factor.

    It is important that board members discuss the critical factors until there is agreement on the four or five skills and/or attributes that a director of education must have.  This will help ensure that decision making goes smoothly.

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    Organize the Job Ad

    Decide Who Will Write the Job Ad

    Often two or three drafts of the ad are necessary in order to get a version that the board is comfortable with.  Any of the following people might write the job ad:

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    Write the Job Ad

    A job ad must be short because newspaper advertising is expensive.  The ad usually contains the following elements: When you are writing the job ad, be sure to use inclusive language.  For example, refer to potential applicants as “the candidate” or “qualified applicants” not as “he”.

    Consider adding a statement like:

    Our school division encourages applications from qualified women and men, including members of visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities.
    Three sample job ads appear in Appendix 1 at the end of this guidebook.

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    Place the Job Ad

    You are legally required to advertise in the two daily newspapers having the largest circulation in Saskatchewan (the Regina Leader-Post and the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix).  Some school divisions advertise in other publications as well.  Possible options to advertise the job opening include: After you have decided which newspapers you will place the ad in, you have to decide upon the number of days the ad will run.  Job ads usually appear in either the Friday or Saturday editions of daily newspapers.  You can run the ad just once, or two or three weekends in a row.  The more times you run the ad, the more potential candidates you are likely to reach, but the greater the expense.

    In addition to running the job ad in newspapers, put it on your school division website.  You may reach additional candidates in this way.

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    Widen the Job Search

    The job ad is an important part of your search for qualified applicants, but it is not the total search.  Most boards of education also inform people about the job opening by word-of-mouth and networking.  Some ideas for widening the job search include: When you search out qualified applicants and invite them to apply, explain that you are trying to increase the size of the pool of candidates and trying to ensure that you have candidates of both genders and a wide variety of backgrounds.  Make it clear that you are not offering possible applicants the job and that they will go through the same screening process as all other applicants.

    Sometimes a school division will run a job ad in Saskatchewan’s two largest daily newspapers and get only one or two applications.  Small rural school divisions sometimes receive few applications for jobs.  If you receive only one or two applications, you will almost certainly want to widen the job search.  Advertise in more publications and websites.  Let as many people as possible know about the job opening.

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    Handle Applications

    As applications begin to come in, it is a good idea to set up a separate file for each application. That way notes and additional material can be added to each application if necessary.  Here are some questions you will have to address when handling applications.

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    Screen Applicants

    Screening applicants has five components:

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    Screen for Legal Requirements

    If you get many applications, it is likely that some of the applicants will not meet the legal requirements for the position of director of education.  For example, you may get applicants who have experience teaching at the university level, but not at the K-12 level; or applicants who have no Canadian teaching experience; or applicants who have degrees in a field other than education.  None of these people would be eligible for the job of director of education.  The first screening should be simply to weed out the people who don’t meet the legal requirements.

    During this preliminary screening, you might also weed out applicants whose applications are so messy they cannot be read, and applications that have many coffee stains and the like. The type of application that an individual submits gives you information about the quality of the work they will submit to the board and the public.  If someone sends in a messy job application, it is likely that all of their work will be messy.

    This screening can be done by a contracted consultant or the secretary-treasurer since it is unambiguous in nature.  However, the board should receive a list of the names of everyone who applied.  The person doing the preliminary screening should indicate the reasons why certain applications did not meet basic criteria.

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    Create a Short List

    A short list is a list of the three to five people who will be interviewed, so the next step is to select the three to five best candidates.  Refer back to the criteria you developed at the beginning of the recruiting process and evaluate each applicant against these criteria.  Pay particular attention to the critical factors – the four or five attributes that candidates absolutely must have for success in your school division.

    If you get a lot of applications, you may want to create a preliminary short list of eight to ten people.  Do reference checks on these people and, on the basis of your reference checks, select a short list of three to five people.  If you get a manageable number of applications, you can:

    The process of creating a short list can be coordinated by a contracted consultant, the Regional Director of Education or some other individual external to the board.  However, actual decision-making responsibility should rest with the board.  Because the board has legal and ethical responsibility for hiring, board members should decide who is on the short list.

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    Do Reference Checks

    There is no single “correct time” to do reference checks.  Reference checks can be done at any of the following points in the selection process: The point at which you do reference checks depends on the number of applications you get, how much information you have about the people applying, and the board’s preference.

    Candidates will give you the names of references in their application or at the job interview. In some cases, you may want to check with former employers, if they are not included in the references given.

    The appropriate procedure for checking with former employers is:

    If a candidate asks you not to check with one or more former employers, this should raise a red flag.  It indicates there was a problem in at least one previous job situation.  Ask the candidate why s/he doesn’t want you to check and do further inquiries.

    The person who does the reference checks should be someone who is familiar with Saskatchewan’s education system, for example, the chairperson of the board of education, the Regional Director of Education, or someone from the SSTA.  In the reference checks, ask about the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.  You might also ask specific questions about the individual’s ability to work with others and his or her leadership style.  Then summarize the results of the reference checks in a single written page for each candidate.  Distribute this summary page to the members of the board.  Appendix 2 provides a form that you can use during reference checks.

    Do reference checks in a formal manner and ask the same questions of each reference contacted.  Casual inquiries should not be accepted in place of a formal reference check.

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    Notify Short-Listed Candidates

    After three to five candidates have been short-listed, contact these candidates by phone:

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    Share Information with Short-Listed Candidates

    Generally, after three to five candidates have been short-listed, there is further sharing of information between the board and the candidates.

    Information That Board Sends to Candidates

    Information That Candidates Send to Board

    Many boards ask short-listed candidates for some or all of the following pieces of written information:

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    Interview Candidates

    This section on interviewing candidates covers four topics:

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    The Selection Panel

    In many cases, the entire board of education acts as a selection panel.  All board members participate in interviews of short-listed candidates and are involved in making the decision about the most suitable candidate.

    All board members will have to work with the director of education in the future, so it is important to hire someone who all members feel comfortable with.

    Occasionally, a board of education will designate a selection panel of five or six people to conduct the interviews and make the selection.  The danger of this approach is that some board members who were not on the selection panel may find it difficult to work with the individual selected by the panel, or they may feel that they were excluded from participation in a very important decision.

    Serving on the selection panel involves considerable work.  Members of the selection panel:

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    The Interview

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    Other Input to the Selection Process

    Choosing a director of education is a very important decision, perhaps the most important decision the board will make.  It is sometimes difficult to fully assess candidates on the basis of their written application and a two-hour interview.  Indeed, these activities give you little insight into important considerations such as the candidate’s ability to collaborate with others, to listen and to resolve conflict.  Reference checks are a help, but there is a tendency for references to give only positive information and to say what they think you want to hear.  Some boards of education get input from other sources in order to get a more comprehensive picture of candidates.  Some sources of input you might consider are:

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    Making a Decision

    By the time you are ready to make a decision you will have collected numerous pieces of information about each candidate.  You will probably have: All of this information should be considered when you make a decision.  Weigh all of the information collected against the criteria you established when you began the recruitment process.

    Most boards of education make the decision through a process of discussion and consensus, because the person selected has to be someone all board members can work with.

    After you have selected your first choice applicant, identify your second and third choices. This will be helpful if the first choice applicant accepts another position or changes her or his mind about the job.

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    Part 3 - Following Up

    The selection process isn’t finished when you choose one candidate for the position of director of education.  Follow-up tasks include: These follow-up tasks are described in more detail in the sections that follow.

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    Inform Successful Candidate and Negotiate a Contract

    This section covers four topics:

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    Inform the Successful Candidate

    As soon as a decision is made, call the successful candidate and inform him or her of the decision.  Typically, this call is made by the chairperson of the board of education.  In this call:

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    Negotiate the Contract of Employment

    By law, a contract between a director of education and a board of education must specify: Consult with the SSTA for information about the current salary range for directors of education and benefits provided.  The SSTA will be able to give you an estimate of what other boards of various sizes and types are paying.

    Some boards of education contract with a director for a specific period of time (usually five years).  Other boards offer a contract that is valid until it is terminated by either party.  The board may prefer one type over the other, or this may be a matter for negotiation with the successful candidate.

    A sample contract is provided in Appendix 5.  The sample contract in Appendix 5 assumes that:

    If this is not the case in your situation, modify the contract appropriately.

    Contract negotiations are usually handled in one of the following ways:

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    Make a Formal Offer of Employment

    As soon as you have agreed on contractual terms, make a formal written offer of employment and enclose the contract that has been negotiated.  Give the candidate a specified time to either accept or reject the offer of employment in writing.  Usually, this specified time is quite short – a week or less.

    If the candidate accepts, the process is near completion.  If s/he rejects the offer of employment, then move on to the board’s second choice candidate.

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    File the Contract with Pension Plans

    Regulation 7.1(1) to The Education Act 1995 requires that the person you hire file copies of all contracts of employment and subsequent amendments and revisions with the Teachers’ Superannuation Commission or the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Retirement Plan (whichever applies).  This must be done within 30 days of the date on which the contract comes into effect.  Sometimes, the board of education files the employment contract on behalf of its employee.

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    Inform Unsuccessful Applicants

    Candidates will want to know about the status of their application as soon as possible.  After you have made a verbal offer to one applicant, phone all the other people you interviewed and tell them that a verbal offer has been made, and that if the verbal offer is rejected, you will get back to them.

    As soon as your choice for the position of director of education has accepted the job offer in writing, write letters to the unsuccessful applicants.  All applicants put a lot of effort into organizing their applications and preparing for the interview.  They deserve the courtesy of a formal letter.

    Get these letters out as quickly as possible. Unsuccessful candidates should be informed before news of the appointment is widely publicized.

    Some applicants may have loaned you work samples, articles, reports and other materials.  Be sure to send back any materials that applicants want returned.

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    Announce the Appointment

    You are required by law to notify the Minister of Education of the name and address of the person appointed.  A letter to the Regional Director of Education fulfils this requirement.

    People in the local community, the school division staff and members of Saskatchewan’s wider educational community will be aware of the search and will be curious about who the successful applicant is.  Some ideas for informing school division staff and others include:

    When you announce the appointment, give the new director’s name and a brief biography outlining the director’s educational background and past experience.  Include a photo, if possible, and give the date on which the director will be starting work.

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    Orient the New Director of Education

    A new director of education’s first task is to get oriented to what’s going on in the school division.  You can expect the director to take some initiative in this regard.  For example, a proactive director of education will visit each school in the division, meet with each principal and attend a staff meeting at each school.  However, the board of education can play an important role in orientating a new director of education.  The board of education can:

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    Recruiting a Director of Education Summary Checklist

    This checklist summarizes all of the important steps in recruiting and hiring a director of education.  More information about each of these steps is provided in the body of this document.

    Summary Checklist

    Assign Responsibilities
  • Options within education system
  • Regional Director of Education
  • Board of education resources
  • human resources department
  • members of the board of education
  • Fee-for-Service Options
  • SSTA
  • Executive search company
  • Consultant
  • Remember
  • Decide who will do what tasks
  • Reserve decision making for the board, regardless of who is handling administrative and clerical tasks
  • Develop a formal, written agreement, if you are using outside resources
  • Be prepared to revise and change the way you assign responsibility
  • Establish a Budget
    Your budget may include:
  • consultants’ fees
  • travel costs
  • newspaper advertising
  • long distance phone
  • hospitality costs 

  • Set the Stage
  • Review vision, mission and goals for the school division
  • Develop (or revise) a job description for the director of education

  • Notify the Regional Director of Education, in Writing, That You Are Recruiting a Director of Education

    Be Aware of Potential Problems

  • Conflicts of interest
  • Pressure from candidates
  • Recruiting
    Decide on Criteria
  • Minimum legal requirements
  • Professional criteria
  • education
  • administrative experience
  • teaching experience
  • First Nations experience
  • Financial management skills
  • Personnel management skills
  • Educational leadership skills
  • Personal characteristics
  • Criminal records check
  • Critical factors – What are the four or five absolutely essential skills and attributes?

  • Organize the Job Ad
  • Write the job ad
    • description of school division
    • candidates’ qualifications
    • references
    • information about submitting application
    • deadline date
    Place the Job Ad
  • Decide which papers and websites to run ad in
  • Regina Leader-Post and Saskatoon Star-Phoenix
  • STF Bulletin
  • SaskJobs
  • LEADS website
  • Daily newspapers in other prairie provinces
  • Local daily or weekly newspaper
  • Other daily newspapers
  • First Nations newspapers
  • SWAAC newsletter
  • National newspapers (Globe & Mail, National Post)
  • Decide how many times ad is to run
  • Put ad on school division website

  • Widen the Search
  • Use networking and word-of-mouth to let qualified applicants know about the search
  • Handle Applications
  • Set up a file for each applicant
  • Will applications be accepted after the deadline?
  • Who will have access to the files?
  • Will applicants be allowed to apply in confidence?
  • Will applicants be told how many others have applied?  are being interviewed?
  • After the competition, what happens to applications? 

  • Screen Applicants
  • Provide the board with a list of all applicants
  • Screen for legal requirements
  • Create a short list
  • Notify short-listed candidates
  • Share information with short-listed candidates
  • Board can send candidates:  job description; school division mission, vision and goals; other information about school division and community
  • Candidates can send board:  university transcripts, references, written statement of philosophy, criminal records check, work samples
  • Check references – can be done before or after interviews

  • Interview Candidates
  • Usually whole board conducts interviews
  • Conduct interviews – follow same format for each interview·
  • Get other input (opinions of staff, community members, chairs of district boards and local school advisory committees
  • Make a decision – ensure that successful applicant is someone all board members can work with
  • Following Up
    Inform Successful Candidate
  • Make verbal offer
  • Notify other candidates that a verbal offer has been made 

  • Negotiate a Contract
  • Contract can be for a specific period of time (e.g., five years) or valid until terminated
  • Contract must specify:
  • yearly salary and other allowances
  • vacation
  • procedure for review of contract
  • procedure for termination of contract
  • other terms
  • Make a formal written offer of employment
  • give a deadline for written response to offer
  • Inform Unsuccessful Applicants
  • Phone unsuccessful applicants to tell them a verbal offer has been made
  • Write formal letters when first-choice candidate accepts
  • Return work samples and other materials

  • Appointment
  • Notify Regional Director of Education
  • Notify school division staff, media, local community, education community as a whole.

  • File Contract with Teachers’ Superannuation Commission and the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Retirement Plan

    Orient the New Director to the School Division

    Table of Contents


    Appendix 1:  Sample Job Ads

    The Board of Trustees invites applications for the position of Director of Education/C.E.O. for the Prairie West School Division No. 75.  Duties will commence August 1 or as mutually agreed.

    The Prairie West School Division No. 75 is proud of the strong relationships it has with its dedicated staff, parents and communities in a growing and innovative environment.  These strong relationships foster learning that provides outstanding educational opportunities for all children through a full range of programming.

    The Division theme “Growing in Excellence, Rural-Inviting – Learner Centred” highlights our firm believe in the promotion of rural values to the children we serve.

    The Prairie West School Division spans 5,800 square kilometres and serves the needs of 1,200 students within 11 schools.  The Division schools are located in Cabri, Success, Waldeck, Stewart Valley, Wymark, Neville and Vanguard.  In addition, the Division shares ownership of the Swift Current Comprehensive High School, and operates an alternative education program in Swift Current.

    The Division operating budget for 2001 is $9,300,000.00.


    For more information, visit our web-site at: or call (306) 773-9358.


    The Board seeks a chief executive officer whose philosophy is committed to rural education and the principles of integrity and respect.  The candidate will have an exemplary record of accomplishments in public education dedicated to children, team building and staff development.

    Excellent interpersonal , communication, and administrative skills, strong abilities in leadership, strategic planning, and fiscal management, together with high ethical standards and a commitment to Board government is required.

    A compassionate, inspiring individual who embraces high standards, effectively leads change and who welcomes constant improvement is sought.  The candidate must be eligible for L.E.A.D.S. membership.


    Submit by June 22, 2001, a cover letter, current resume, include list of references:Peter Neufeld, Chairperson
    Prairie West School Division No. 75
    110-11th Avenue N.W.
    Swift Current, Saskatchewan   S9H 1B8
    Telephone:  (306) 773-9358
    Facsimile: (306) 778-2668

    Growing in Excellence
    Rural—Inviting—Learner Centered
    (Used with permission.)
    Kindersley School Division #34
    invites applications for the position of

    The Kindersley School Division is located in the heart of West Central Saskatchewan.  It is one of the largest rural School Divisions in the area with offices located in the Town of Kindersley which has a population of approximately 5,000.
    The school system provides a full range of K-12 programs and services for approximately 1720 students whose educational needs are being served by 107 teachers and 50 support staff.

    The Position:
    The Director is the Chief Executive Officer and the educational leader of the School Division.

    The successful candidate will:
    (a) hold or be eligible to obtain a Saskatchewan Professional “A” teaching certificate;
    (b) have at least one year of graduate study at a recognized university in a field related to major duties of the Director of Education;
    (c) have completed  at least five years teaching experience in Canada at the elementary and secondary level which are acceptable to the Board;
    (d) have completed at least five years of successful administrative experience in Canada, with preference for Division Office experience;
    (e) be eligible for membership in LEADS;
    (f) Kindersley School Division will confirm employment upon receipt of satisfactory criminal records check.

    Starting date for the position is negotiable.
    Salary and Benefits:  The compensation package will be negotiated in accordance with education and experience, directly with the successful applicant. 

    For further information contact Mr. Pat Donegan, Director of Education at (306) 463-4657 or by email at
    Please submit your resume, transcripts and list of references by Friday, February 23, 2001 at 4:00 p.m. to:

    Richard Douglas, Chairperson
    Kindersley School Division #34
    Box 1209
    Kindersley, SK S0L1S0
    Fax: (306) 463-3077
    For further information on the schools and the Kindersley School Division, please check our website at
    (Used with permission.)
    The Boards of Education of the
    Scenic Valley School Division No. 117
    and the
    Broadview School Division No. 18
    invites applications for the position of
    Director of Education
    with duties to commence August 1, 2001

    The Scenic Valley School Division serves 1,216 pupils in 5 centres while the Broadview Division has an enrollment of 929 pupils in 5 centres.  Included in those enrollments are a large number of pupils from 8 First Nations communities.  Between them the Divisions have a professional staff of approximately 140 teachers and a support staff of about 90.
    The Position
    The Scenic Valley and Broadview Divisions have agreed to work towards amalgamating August 1, 2002 but for the 2001/02 school year will operate separately with a common Director.  The Director is the chief executive of both Boards of Education.
    The successful candidate will

  • hold a Saskatchewan Professional “A” certificate
  • have at least one year of graduate study in a field related to the major duties of the Director
  • have successful teaching and administrative experience in Canadian elementary or secondary schools
  • be eligible for membership in LEADS
  • In addition the candidate should
  • have excellent interpersonal, communication and organizational skills
  • ave experience in rural education
  •  have experience working with First Nations people

    For further information about the position call either of the current incumbent directors – Lynne Saas at (306) 748-2523 or Dexter Samida at (306) 696-2566.
    Letters of application, including a complete resume, names and telephone numbers of at least three references familiar with your work in a school system and your administrative ability, and your academic qualifications will be accepted until March 8, 2001.  Applications to be directed to: 
    Director Search Committee
    Box 100
    Neudorf, Saskatchewan
    S0A 2T0
    Fax:  (306) 748-2753
    (Used with permission.)

    Table of Contents

    Appendix 2:  Reference Checklist

    Use this form (or one similar) when you are doing reference checks.  Ask the same questions, in the same order for each reference check.  The questions below are quite general.  General questions often get a more comprehensive response than very narrow, highly focussed questions.  Use more specific questions if appropriate for your situation.
    Name of reference: ___________________________________
    Name of applicant: ___________________________________
    Name of person doing reference check: ___________________________________
    Date of reference check: ___________________________________
    1. Under what circumstances did you know Mr./Ms. XYZ?
    2. What was the nature of your working relationship?
    3. How long did you know (work with) Mr./Ms. XYZ?
    4. What would you consider Mr./Ms. XYZ’s achievements to be in the situation where you worked with her/him?
    5. What would you consider Mr./Ms. XYZ’s areas of challenge to be in the situation where you worked with her/him?
    6. How would you describe Mr./Ms. XYZ’s interpersonal style?
    7. What are Mr./Ms. XYZ’s strengths?
    8. What are Mr./Ms. XYZ’s weaknesses?
    9. Would you hire Mr./Ms. XYZ for the position of director of education?  Why or why not?
    10. What other relevant information can you give me about Mr./Ms. XYZ?

    Table of Contents

    Appendix 3: Director of Education: Sample Interview Questions

    Sample questions that might be asked of applicants for the director of education job appear below.  These questions are examples only.  Revise and change them so they are appropriate for your situation.  There are more questions below than can be accommodated in a two-hour interview. Select the ones that are most relevant for your situation.

    When you interview candidates ensure fairness and comparability of responses by using a set of predetermined questions and asking the same questions in the same order.  The same interviewers should ask the same questions in each interview.  If you set a time limit for each question or set of questions, ensure that the time limits are the same for each person interviewed.
    Applicant’s Name ________________________ Interview Date ________________
    Assessor’s Name ________________________________________
    Weak   Strong
    | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    1. Introduction
    Introduce the people at the table.

    We have had an opportunity to consider your written application; now we’d like you to tell us how your academic training and experience qualifies you for this job.

    1.1 Why have you applied for this position?  Why do you want to leave your present position? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    1.2 Describe one activity you have done recently in your present job that you are proud of. | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    1.3 Describe one activity you’ve done recently in your present job that you feel didn’t go well. | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    1.4 How would you describe your work ethic? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    2. Director of Education – Board of Education Relationships
    2.1 Describe your leadership style. | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    2.2 Please describe the role of the board of education under your administration. | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    2.3 Describe the type of relationship you see yourself having with the board of education (communication, involvement in decision-making). | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    2.4 How would you handle a situation where you don’t personally agree with a board decision that you are expected to implement? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    3. Director of Education – Community Relationships
    3.1 What type of relationship do you see between the director of education and the community as a whole? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    3.2 What do you do to resolve conflict situations?  For example, how would you handle a conflict between a teacher and a parent that cannot be resolved by the principal, or a conflict between two special interests groups with differing expectations? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    3.3 What would you do if a special interest group came to you complaining that their particular point of view is not reflected in the school program and threatened to take their concerns to the media? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    3.4 If the local newspaper wants to interview you when you begin your job, what are the most important points you will make? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    4. The Role of the Director of Education
    4.1 Section 108(c) of The Education Act, 1995 states that the director of education “shall exercise general supervision of the schools and the work of principals, teachers and other personnel employed by the board.”

    In your opinion, what kind of supervisor gets the most out of people?

    | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    4.2 Please describe what you would see as an appropriate relationship between the director of education, as chief executive officer of the board of education, and other school system staff. 1 2 3 4 5
    • Superintendent of administration – finance
    • Superintendent of curriculum
    • Superintendent of special education
    • Maintenance supervisor
    • Central office support staff
    • Principals
    • Teachers
    • Caretakers
    • District boards
    | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    5. Curriculum
    5.1 What are some of the indicators that sound instruction is occurring in a classroom? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    5.2 Please describe some of the experiences you have had as an administrator:
    (a) Facilitating the implementation of new courses of study. | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    (b) Promoting a continuum of student learning in each subject as students progress from one grade to the next. | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    (c) Monitoring the achievement of students on a school or division basis. | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    (d) Implementing or promoting resource-based learning. | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    (e) Facilitating co-operative efforts to achieve a smooth transition for students from the K-12 system to post-secondary institutions and the world of work. | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    (f) Facilitating equity in all curriculum initiatives. | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    5.3 Describe your knowledge and/or skills in computer technology and describe to us the future impact this technology will have for our children in teaching and learning. | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    5.4 What are the purposes of student evaluation? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
     5.5 Suppose a parent contacts you with a concern that her son is not achieving well in school.  She is in tears, and complains that her first indication that her child is having trouble came with today’s report card. However, she has often requested that the school let her know at once if things are not going well.What is your initial reaction, and what steps would you take to deal with the situation? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    6. Teacher Supervision
    6.1 What type of teacher supervision program would you implement as a director of education? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    6.2 What do you see as an appropriate role for the principal in the process of teacher evaluation?
    6.3 How do you feel about teacher self-evaluation and peer evaluation? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    6.4 In your opinion, what kind of supervisor gets the most out of people?
    6.5 In supervising teachers, you will need to be aware of the elements essential to effective teaching.
    (a) What elements do you consider as essential to effective teaching? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    (b) What procedures would you use to deal with a teacher you perceived to be:
    • marginally competent?
    • incompetent?
    6.6 How would you deal with a teacher, principal or support staff who is openly critical of you to other staff members or the public? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    7. Educational Issues
    7.1 Our school division has a number of programs in place for children at-risk.  What experience/knowledge do you bring to work effectively with these children? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    7.2 Our school division provides educational services to      #      of students. Within the school division there are a variety of schools.  Please describe the experience and/or leadership style you have had or would use in each of the following circumstances:
    • high number of Aboriginal children with many of them requiring support to enhance their achievement and self-esteem
    • rural K-12 schools with a high school population of approximately 50 students each
    • large comprehensive high school with a wide variety of programs
    • a dual track K-6 school – French and English
    • inner city school where students experience many social and economic disadvantages
    | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    7.3 What do you see as other important issues in education in Saskatchewan that will need to be resolved in the next few years? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    7.4 Home-schooling numbers are increasing across Saskatchewan.  What experiences/relationships have you had with these parents and students? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    7.5 What part of the director of education’s responsibility do you see as creating the greatest pressure? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    7.6 What part of the director of education’s responsibility do you see as giving you the most pleasure and the greatest rewards? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    7.7 When you make a mistake, what do you do? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    7.8 If you were to assume the position of director of education, what would be your priorities?  What steps would you take to achieve these priorities? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    8. Personal
    8.1 If you were offered the position, how long would you need to decide if you are going to accept and on what date could you be available for work? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    8.2 Are there any personal, business, health, or family considerations that would limit your flexibility for taking on a new assignment? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    8.3 What kind of compensation package would you expect?  For example:· Salary· Sick leave· Holidays· Professional development | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    9. Candidate’s Questions
    9.1 Is there a question that we have not asked, that you hoped we would? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    9.2 What questions do you have for us? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    10. Disclosure Question
    10.1 Is there anything in your past that you have not shared with us that would influence our decision to offer you this position? | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
    11. Closing Remarks
    Thank you for coming, etc.

    You can expect to hear from us within two weeks.

    The secretary-treasurer (search consultant, etc.) will give you an expense form to fill out for your travel expenses.

    12.  Other – Personal Characteristics, Overall Impression, Character
    13.  What are the three greatest strengths of this applicant?
    14.  What are the limitations of this applicant?

    Table of Contents

    Appendix 4: Director of Education: Candidate Observation Sheet


    Name of Candidate  ____________________________     Date  ____________________

    Situation in which you observed candidate  _____________________________________

    What, in your opinion, are this candidate’s strengths?

    What, in your opinion, are this candidate’s weaknesses?

    Your name:   _________________________________________________

    Your signature:  _________________________________________________

    Table of Contents

    Appendix 5: Director of Education: Sample Contract of Employment

    This sample contract assumes that: If these conditions do not apply in your situation, modify this contract appropriately.  Note that the director’s job description would be attached as Schedule A to this contract.

    Contact the SSTA’s Legal Services Department if you need help developing a contract.

    Sample Contract of Employment


     (hereinafter referred to as “The Board” of the first part)


     (hereinafter referred to as “The Director” of the second part)

    This Employment Contract made and entered into this ______ day of _______________, 20___ and between the __________________________ and ________________________

    Now, therefore, the Board and the Director hereto agree as follows:

    1. The Board does hereby appoint ________________________ as Director of Education and does hereby constitute and appoint the said ________________________ to be Chief Executive Officer of the Board with Performance Responsibilities and Goals per Schedule A.

    2. TERM

    The Board hereby employs and the Director hereby accepts employment as Director of Education for the term commencing ____________________________ and terminating ___________________________.

    3. SALARY

    The Board shall pay the Director a salary of $_______________ per annum.


    The Board agrees to pay the Director for all business travel at the Board approved Division rate and a monthly car allowance of $_______________.


    The Board will reimburse the Director for reasonable expenses incurred by the Director in the performance of his/her duties.  Expenses include transportation, food and lodging, as well as registration fees for conferences approved by the Board.


    (a) The Board will acknowledge the Director’s accumulated sick leave entitlement currently in existence with the Board.
    (b) The Board will provide the Director with, at minimum, the same medical and insurance benefits as provided to other teaching staff members.  The Board will contribute 100% of the premium cost.


    The Director will be entitled to ______ weeks of vacation per annum.

    8. The Board agrees to pay the annual LEADS fees for the Director.

    9. The Board will provide the Director with a personal public relations account of $______________.

    10. The Parties agree that in the event of amalgamation and the Director’s contract is not extended beyond __________________ that he will return to her/his position as ____________________ of _________________________.

    In Witness Whereof the parties hereto have approved this employment contract effective on the day and year specified in Article 2.

     Board of Education

     Director of Education


    Table of Contents

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