Falmouth School Board plans to hire consultant for new super search

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FALMOUTH — School Board members conducted interviews with four consultants this week to select one to assist them in their search for a new Falmouth schools superintendent.

A subcommittee made up of board members Linda Cote, Mark Terison and Karen Farber was formed early this summer to begin the search process, Chairwoman Beth Franklin said Monday. After talking to many school districts that have recently gone through the process of hiring a new superintendent, the committee felt it needed outside expertise to help with some facets of the search, she said.

After obtaining recommendations for consultants that do business in Maine and New England, they chose to pursue four possible candidates in hour-long interviews before making a decision. Though the committee is still trying to determine how much of the search process to handle in-house and how much to delegate to the consultant, Franklin said they expect the interview process itself will help them reach a conclusion as to their specific needs for outside assistance.

One deciding factor will be cost.

According to the department’s Director of Finance and Operations Dan O’Shea, consulting costs could run from about $10,000 to $25,000 for duties that could include advertising, screening, outside contact to protect confidentiality and production of a marketing brochure. The brochure, O’Shea said, is now considered “the standard” to attract quality prospective candidates to the district and the community.

“The feedback is it did help in the last (superintendent hiring) process,” O’Shea said.

The board has about $5,000 to spend at its discretion on communications and miscellanea and will “try to stay within the budget looking at the differential between the outgoing superintendent’s salary and the one-year interim,” he said.

“They (board members) have been sensitive to current financial conditions,” he said.

Franklin said she’s confident much of the work can be done in-house as there is a lot of good experience, knowledge and long-term service to the schools on the board.

“Part of what we’ll be asking the consultants is how willing they would be just to help in areas we feel we need help,” she said.

Falmouth is mounting the search after five-year Superintendent George Entwistle III resigned to take the superintendent’s position in Belmont, Mass. Former Assistant Superintendent Barbara Powers was named Falmouth’s interim superintendent.

Franklin said the board hopes to have a consultant in place by September. Once a decision on the consultant has been made, the superintendent search itself will begin, Franklin said. Just as in the last search five years ago, the board plans to involve the community in the process. Though the model is not yet in place, it will draw “from different stakeholder groups,” she said, including Parent Teacher Organization members, teachers,  and residents without children in the schools, to “make sure every faction of the town is covered.”

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