Book Review

Recruiting Strategies for Public Schools

Rowman & Littlefield Education, Lanham, Md., 2005, 172 pp., $44.95 softcover

By Herbert Pandiscio

Eighty percent or more of most school district budgets is spent on employees in salary, benefits and professional development. A bad hiring decision can be costly in subsequent staff development, supervision, administrators’ time and/or termination proceedings.

The bigger drawbacks, however, may come in the form of emotional damage to students, loss of learning and lowering of staff morale. Recruiting Strategies for Public Schools emphasizes that hiring of “under performers” is often due to lack of ethical strength by those directly or indirectly responsible for the employment process.

Author Herb Pandiscio brings a wealth of practical experience, including 25 years as the Avon, Conn., superintendent. His credibility on personnel issues is enhanced as president of Herbert Williams Consulting, a search consultant firm, and by the several interim superintendencies he’s held over the years. Pandiscio has documented the best and worst employment practices, some of which are reported in his earlier book Job Hunting in Education.

In the author’s words, “This is a book about honor, about a promise to respect all candidates regardless of race, color, gender, religions or other persuasions. It is about strengths — the strength of superintendents and governing boards to withstand the pressures of patronage, favoritism and other unethical influences from without and within the system.”

To build a defense for undesirable pressures, Pandiscio goes beyond the typical rhetoric to describe in detail how to train interviewers, what questions should be asked, how to check the paper trail, how to conduct site visits, best ways to validate candidates’ history and the proper approach to vetting prior performance. His foreword offers an innovative promise of high ethical employment decisions by a superintendent.

Reviewed by Art Stellar, superintendent, Taunton Public Schools, Taunton, Mass.