Illinois firm to lead search for Portland school superintendent

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PORTLAND — An Illinois-based consulting firm has been selected to help lead the search for the city’s next superintendent of schools.

BWP & Associates, of Libertyville, was selected by the School Board at its Jan. 5 meeting.

School Board Chairwoman Marnie Morrione last week said four firms were interviewed by the superintendent search committee, which met in four executive sessions. Morrione said she could not disclose the identities of the other firms that were interviewed for confidentiality reasons.

“(BWP) had done superintendent searches in districts about the size of Portland,” Morrione said, which helped set the firm apart. Additionally, Morrione said Debra Hill, who is on BWP’s board of directors, came to Portland to meet in person with the committee. Morrione said BWP also knew quite a bit about Portland.

“They understood where we had been with other superintendents and how we’re hoping for more longevity with our superintendent,” Morrione said.

Morrione said another reason BWP was selected was because the firm was able to work within the budget. The School Board has allocated up to $25,000 for the search firm, which will begin its work this week when representatives come to Portland for a planning meeting. 

According to its website, BWP has represented clients in 280 cities and towns in 35 states, but mainly in Illinois. This will be the first time BWP has represented a school district in Maine.

Morrione said the board and BWP have discussed how the process can be be inclusive and transparent to the community and staff, and BWP “will offer suggestions to discuss” that at the meeting. BWP and the board will also talk about dates they will meet in the future.

“It should be an extremely useful launch of the search,” she said.

The School Board followed the same process in 2012 when searching for a new school chief. The result landed the district Emmanuel Caulk, who resigned last July to become superintendent of the 40,000-student Fayette County Public Schools district in Lexington, Kentucky.

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

Jeanne Crocker was named interim superintendent on July 7, and started work Aug. 1 with a one-year contract. The district hopes to have a new superintendent in place by July.

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

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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 cellis@theforecaster.net.