BURLEY — With retirements on the horizon, the Cassia County and Wendell school districts are both searching for new top leadership.

Cassia County Superintendent Gaylen Smyer and Wendell Superintendent Greg Lowe both announced their retirements earlier this year. Both are stepping down June 30.

Their departures will leave a big void. They each have about 40 years of experience as an Idaho educator and have been a superintendent for more than a decade. They’re in charge of overseeing all of the school campuses in their districts, and administrative topics such as budgets and staffing.

Now, school boards are searching for new superintendents and hope to make a hire in March.

In Cassia County, the school board is anxious about the superintendent search, but in a good way, school district spokeswoman Debbie Critchfield said Tuesday. “It’s a great opportunity for any school district to choose their leader.”

Cassia County is south-central Idaho’s second largest school district — behind Twin Falls — and has about 5,500 students. Smyer has been a Cassia County educator since 1979 and superintendent since 2007.

A superintendent job application will likely be available later this week, Critchfield said. The Idaho School Boards Association — which the school district is paying $8,500 to help with the search process — will advertise the job within the northwest.

The school district posted a community survey on its website and distributed it through the Mini-Cassia Chamber of Commerce. Community members were asked to weigh in on professional and personal traits they’d like to see in the next superintendent.

“The (school) board was interested in getting a wide range of opinions on the type of superintendent that would serve the school district the best,” Critchfield said.

Once the survey closed, ISBA compiled the results. “From that, they’re working on the qualifications that will go with an application,” Critchfield said.

Once the application process closes, ISBA will do an initial check of applications to make sure they meet job requirements.

“From there, the school board wants to be very active in the process of who they interview,” Critchfield said.

Finalists will be asked to come to Cassia County for an open house and the community will have a chance to meet them.

Unlike most south-central Idaho school districts, Cassia County is a consolidated district. That means it encompasses multiple “very distinct communities,” Critchfield said, including Albion, Almo, Burley, Declo, Oakley and Malta.

That can pose challenges, such as passing a school bond, Critchfield said, because some people may not want to pay for a project that doesn’t benefit their community. But “over the years, we’ve been able to make that dynamic work.”

It’s something superintendent candidates need to be aware of, she said.

In Wendell, the school district — which has about 1,200 students — started advertising the superintendent position in November and is accepting applications now. The job is posted on the school district’s website and an Idaho education jobs website.

“We’re going to keep it open until we find the right person,” school board chairwoman Tessa Yon said Friday.

Lowe has been superintendent since 2003.

Unlike the Cassia County School District, the Wendell district isn’t opting for any ISBA help with the superintendent search.

Wendell has a superintendent search committee with about 10 members, including school administrators, school board trustees, community members and students.

They’re hoping to conduct interviews in mid-January and February.

The salary for the next superintendent will be negotiable and dependent on experience, Yon said. A search committee isn’t ruling out anyone who doesn’t have a doctoral degree.

“We’re really looking for someone with a growth mindset,” she said,

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