Central Montcalm schools superintendent to retire

By Lori Hansen • Last Updated 11:45 am on Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jake Helms

STANTON — Central Montcalm Public School Superintendent Jake Helms has decided it is time to retire … again.

Helms told school board members at their Monday night meeting that it is time to begin a replacement search process, either by hiring an outside firm or organizing a search themselves.

Helms’ contract with the district expires June 30, 2012.

The board agreed to form a search committee under Vice President Bill Simpson’s lead.

“We really must start in January,” Secretary Roxanne Switzer said.

Helms said the committee can produce a job description.

“Each of you have a unique perspective of what you would like to see in the next superintendent,” Helms said. “You can have suggested interview questions ready to present at the January meeting.”

Typically a board will have a two- or three-week application window, then would take seven days or so to look over the applications. The board then sets dates for interviews, choosing a number of candidates to interview. After interviews, the board has options again, Helms said.

“After the interview, there may be one candidate that stands head and shoulders above the rest,” said Helms, “Or you can move to option No. 2 where you call back two or three applicants to a second interview and you ask more specific questions.

“I will volunteer, at no charge, to help,” he added. “I will help in search process. I will help generate questions you wish to ask. I will not help in the interview portion and I will not help chose.”

Helms retired from the Manistee school district in 2003 and enjoyed five years of retirement before Central Montcalm hired him as an interim superintendent following Roger Thelen’s departure in August 2008. He was later hired as superintendent in a three-year contract. Helms then agreed to one more year.

“It’s time for retirement,” Helms said. “I’ve enjoyed my time here and working with the board. This is my hometown. This is the school I graduated from. But I will be 60 in the fall and my contract is up and it’s time.”

He said in the previous five-year respite, he and his wife traveled, often visiting their two sons who live out of state. He hopes to do that again.

“It has been a hard year for educators throughout the state,” he said. “There has been a lot of decisions made in Lansing dealing with education. Some may work out, but maybe some won’t. In general, there has been a lot of anger directed at educators.”

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