The Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education is scheduled to hire a search firm to find its next superintendent this week.

The Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education is scheduled to hire a search firm to find its next superintendent this week.

The board's Dec. 10 meeting is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. in Clark Hall, 380 Granville St.

Board president Matthew Campbell said members needed more time to think about the decision after hearing presentations by three consultants during a special meeting Dec. 3.

The board heard half-hour presentations from representatives of the Ohio Schools Boards Association, Finding Leaders (of Independence) and the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio.

The board previously heard from K-12 Business Consulting Inc. of New Albany on Nov. 12.

Board member Windy McKenna said she needed to sit down and make a chart about what's most important regarding the process and compare consultants.

Proposed contract costs, depending on level of service, are $9,200, OSBA; $11,400, Finding Leaders; and $4,250 (nontargeted search) to $5,500 (targeted), ESC.

K-12 had proposed conducting the search at a price range of $12,500 to $17,500, depending on the time commitment and extent of services.

"The costs are drastically different," Campbell said. "One company -- K-12 -- is upwards of $17,500 at the gold level, and ESC figures are closer to $4,500.

"You're talking a wide spread of discretionary funds," he said. "Is there that much of a gap between services and what the board needs for a superintendent search?"

Board vice president Jill Schuler told her colleagues they should think about whom they don't want and can't trust, as well as those with whom they can work.

Board member Jason Phillips said he wasn't interested in OSBA.

"They didn't mention recruiting the way the others (did)," he said. "I want someone proactive. Finding Leaders I like. I like Dale (McVey of ESC). I think there is value in that they know us. The only one I have no interest in is OSBA. The other three, I see value in what they bring."

McKenna said she likes Ed Vittardi of Finding Leaders.

"I liked what he said; it's about relationships," McKenna said. "Everything he said came back to relationships. I think relationships are very important."

Schuler said the board has said relationships are important all along. She said the services packages are similar.

"It's who do you trust," Schuler said.

Campbell said K-12 has had as many as six searches going simultaneously. If Gahanna chooses the ESC, McVey said, it would be its only search.

"In regards to OSBA, I thought achievers assessment was neat," Campbell said. "K-12 talked about profiling rankings. I like the fact we'd see all applicants after screening review."

He said a concern with OSBA is that its representatives are involved with so many school districts that objectivity could be a challenge.

OSBA search consultant Steve Norton said the process has been developed over 30 years. He said the group's achievers assessment tool is scientifically proven.

"It gives you a clear look at (a candidate)," Norton said. "It helps you understand where strengths and weaknesses lie. The last two years we've closely evaluated our process. One thing we brought back online is our online application system, giving candidates the ability to create a complete profile."

He said OSBA has a much clearer understanding of candidates through this system.

"When we bring these candidates, you can open up an individualized portal," Norton said. "When we come to the table, we can look at candidates together and decide who's the best person to bring forward."

McVey, former Hilliard City Schools superintendent, said he would be the ESC's lead consultant for the G-J search, along with Dr. Bill Reimer, former Ottawa Hills and Olentangy superintendent.

"We believe the resources we have available are second to none," McVey said. "At the end of the day, I know who these companies are. It's who you feel the most comfortable with."

He said he has worked with many G-J officials already.

"I think I understand the district and the needs of the district," McVey said. "We'll be with you throughout. When you look at the success of Hilliard, it was sustained continuity. I don't really believe anyone will work harder or be more invested."

Vittardi said the engagement process makes Finding Leaders unique.

"We'll engage you throughout the process," he said. "We'll get you in touch with what you're looking for. That engagement continues on with stakeholders in the community -- staff, parents. There's no one who will engage as much as we will. That's how the company was founded. That engagement goes through to the end of the process."

G-J board member-elect Beryl Piccolantonio pointed to one positive takeaway among all of the groups.

"This is a desirable district, and this is a desirable position and the timing is good," she said. "Each stated that message strongly."