Consultants to help recruit Portland school chief

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PORTLAND — The committee in charge of managing the search for the city’s next school chief will hire a consulting firm to aid in the process.

School Board member Marnie Morrione, co-chairwoman of the superintendent search committee, wouldn’t say which firms or how many are being considered, but she said the committee will be conducting interviews with potential companies in upcoming private meetings.

The firm used in 2012 was Illinois-based Proact Search, which has since changed its name to Atlantic Research Partners.

“By January we hope to have determined who may assist us with the work, and then we’re off and running with the second phase,” which, Morrione said, will include reviewing the job description for the position.

The first executive session was Nov. 16 at the school district’s central office on Cumberland Avenue; the second will be Nov. 23.

It is “too early to tell” what the cost of hiring a consultant will be, Morrione said, because that will depend on who the School Board hires. The funds will be included in the school budget, she said, adding that the committee will know more in the next few weeks.

The firm hired will be responsible for advertising for candidates, vetting those who apply, and participating in the interview process, among other tasks.

The School Board followed the same process in its search for the previous superintendent, which landed the district Emmanuel Caulk in 2012. Caulk held the post for three years, before resigning to become the superintendent of the 40,000-student Fayette County Public Schools district in Lexington, Kentucky last summer. Caulk’s contract in Portland had been extended to 2019 prior to his resignation.

Jeanne Crocker was named interim superintendent on July 7, and started work Aug. 1 with a one-year contract. Morrione said the board has been “very pleased” with Crocker.

“We feel as if we haven’t missed a step,”  she said. “We continue to move forward in the best interest of our students.”

Morrione said committee members will be interviewing firms that have reached out to the committee. She said the panel will decide after the two executive sessions if the interview process should be extended to gather more information. The district has not issued a request for proposals, and Morrione said it is not clear yet what the next phase will be if a consultant is not immediately chosen.

Morrione said the committee would prefer not to have to issue an RFP, because that would take more time.

The search committee was formed this summer; School Board member Anna Trevorrow is the other co-chairwoman. Board members Laurie Davis and Jenna Vendil also serve on the committee.

The committee and School Board hope to have a new superintendent in place by July 2016.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

The Portland Public Schools central office on Cumberland Avenue.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or