"Our focus is really on our superintendent of schools," said BOE president Dr. Dan Colgan, "[The superintendent is] the only employee that the school board has. When we lose a wonderful leader like Melody, we become anxious."
Dr. Melody Smith has been the Superintendent of Schools since 2006. She's a St. Joseph native and has spent many years within the school district.
And finding the new superintendent will take a few months.
The Board of Education has enlisted the help of a team of two consultants: Bob Watkins and Paul James, both former superintendents in the Kansas City area.
"We're looking for outstanding school leaders," James said. "People who have been in the business, know the business - both the academic and instruction side as well as the business side, and then have the ability to lead effectively."
The consultants' job is to ensure the school board makes the best use of its time in the search for the new superintendent.
"This is one of the largest budgets in the state. It has more employees than most school districts in the state. We're looking for candidates that have experience in organizations where they can step up to this level and be an effective leader," James said.
The Board of Education estimates the search will cost between $13,000 and $17,500.
They'll search for candidates across the country; but their consultants say they'll get a majority of the candidates from Missouri.
And while community input is important in finding the type of candidate, much of the process will remain confidential.
"Because these are political positions, if a community next door finds out their leader is leaving, they may have some political skin in that," James explained. "Confidential searches tend to get the best field of candidates right now."
The school board hopes to have their field of candidates finalized by February 8, 2013.
Their goal is to have the new superintendent chosen by March 1.