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Falmouth begins school superintendent search with public forums, hiring of consultant

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Falmouth begins school superintendent search with public forums, hiring of consultant

FALMOUTH — The consultant hired to assist the School Board in its search for a new superintendent of schools will lead a series of discussions with the public next week to focus in on the ideal candidate for the position.

Jacqueline Roy, of J.A. Roy Associates in Dennisport, Mass., was hired for $12,000 to conduct some elements of the search for the replacement of former Superintendent George Entwistle, who left this summer to become school chief in Belmont, Mass. Former Assistant Superintendent Barbara Powers is serving as interim superintendent.

On Wednesday, Sept. 23, Roy will facilitate a discussion to give residents a chance to share their perceptions of the strengths of the Falmouth schools, challenges the district faces and the qualities required of a new superintendent. The forum will begin at 7 p.m. in the Community Room of the Falmouth Memorial Library. Other forums will take place with specific groups at different venues on Sept. 23 and 24; they are also open to the public.

"We're trying to reach out to as many people in the town as we can," board Chairwoman Beth Franklin said Monday.

The board selected Roy after interviewing four consultants.

"She just seemed to really understand our need for some flexibility," Franklin said. "We hoped to be able to keep the cost down by keeping some activities as part of the board. She was extremely professional and impressive; she has a long track record and demonstrates the flexibility that we all thought we needed in terms of finding someone to help us who would work with us."

The board recently formed a superintendent search subcommittee, made up of Linda Cote, Karen Farber and Mark Terison, Franklin said. Roy's responsibilities will include recruiting through advertisements and her connections to qualified candidates, providing evaluation materials and techniques to the subcommittee and initiating and maintaining contact with potential candidates.

As an cost-saving measure, Franklin said the subcommittee will tackle many of the projects normally reserved for a consultant – crafting a community survey, designing an online and print brochure to attract desirable candidates, developing interview questions, conducting interviews, completing background and reference checks and negotiating with the selected candidate.

In addition to the consultant's services, the board will use SchoolSpring software for "paperless" candidate applications and screening.

Anyone who is unable to attend one of the public forums is invited to complete an online survey that will be available on the School Department Web site for a week to 10 days following next week's discussions.

With the consultant and the committee in place, Franklin said the board hopes to advertise for the superintendent position in early October, accept applications through early November and begin interviews before winter break, possibly bleeding into the new year.

"The drop-dead date is we have to have a new superintendent by July 1 (2010)," she said.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.