Consultant to lead Portland school superintendent search

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PORTLAND — The School Board is beginning the process of finding a new superintendent of schools for Maine’s largest school district.

“We’re hiring a consultant to help us with the process,” said School Board member Ed Bryan, who is part of a subcommittee charged with choosing a consulting company.

Superintendent James C. Morse Sr. on Oct. 13 announced he will retire as of June 30, 2012.

When Morse was hired three years ago, the School Board put together a job description, posted the job, interviewed candidates and ultimately selected Morse.

This time, Bryan said, the board will hire a consultant to do much of that work and facilitate a transition from Morse to the candidate the board chooses to replace him.

In addition to working with School Board members and School Department staff, the consultant, who will be chosen in January, will be tasked with setting up public meetings and stakeholder meetings so board members can hear from as many groups as possible.

“We need to get a very broad base for what people in Portland are looking for,” Bryan said.

He said the board has received a large number of requests from community groups, such as the Portland NAACP, school-oriented groups like LearningWorks, and parents and community members, all interested in being part of the hiring process.

“I hope people realize the actual work looking for a superintendent hasn’t started yet,” Bryan said. “We’re going to make sure everybody has a chance to be involved.”

If the board does not hire one of four companies that submitted unsolicited proposals to handle the hiring and transition process, it will likely issue a request for proposals to find a company to work with. But Bryan said he thinks at least two of the four firms will be acceptable and an RFP will be unnecessary.

“If we hire a consultant, it will get us out of the gate as quickly as possible,” he said.

Bryan said he expects the board to make an offer in May and have the new superintendent begin on July 1.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.

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