HARVARD - The search for a full time school superintendent will launch this fall. Interim School Superintendent Joseph Connelly will hold over for a second year on a reduced-schedule basis. School Committee member Patty Wenger said she, Connelly, Chair SusanMary Redinger met with Glenn Koocher, Executive Director of The Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) to chart a course for the search process.
Wenger said they "discussed the pros and cons" of hiring a private search firm versus conducting the district conducting its own superintendent search. In either event, Connelly said Koocher strongly recommended that local decision makers have the opportunity to review all applications received, regardless of what semifinalists are suggested for the job.
Connelly said the best search launch window is September, since potential candidates are still wrapping up their current school years. A September launch would also provide added time in case the committee wishes to terminate and restart the search process in the event the applicant pool is not satisfactory.
Connelly provided a tentative timeline to the committee in which the board nails down the job duties this summer in order to advertise the post in mid September. A stakeholder focus group and surveys would gather community sentiment on what attributes are desired of the next superintendent.
In mid October, a 12-member Search Committee could form, consisting of 3 teachers, 3
The School Committee could interview 4-6 semifinalists on December 9, and narrow the pack to 1-3 finalists by Christmas break. Site visits, in-depth reference checks, and public Q&A sessions with the finalists could be conducted before a proposed January 21 school committee final vote to offer a 3-year contact. If negotiations wrapped by February 1, the incoming superintendent would have 5 months of overlap before Connelly's June 30 departure date. The new superintendent would start July 1.
Redinger encouraged the use of online surveys to gauge community input, stating "focus groups are not really well attended."
The committee postponed debate on whether or not to retain a search firm. Since Harvard is a member, MASC technical assistance on how to hire a superintendent is available for free. However, more detailed, hands-on assistance could be provided by MASC or a number of other firms in the field.
Redinger said MASC quoted $8,500 with an added $3,500 for advertising costs and materials. Redinger wondered if the committee had the "bandwidth and time" to devote to a dense time frame.
School Committee member Keith Cheveralls said Connelly's work schedule is about to taper off for the summer, so that his time and availability can be banked for the coming school year. Still, Cheveralls suggested the committee "could do it on our own" and come out with a "better product." Cheveralls said the degree of free MASC technical assistance "is substantial" but added he remained open to "going down that path" of hiring a search firm.
Cheveralls and Redinger volunteered to work together before the June 25 committee meeting to flesh out a draft set of core job responsibilities for the next superintendent.
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