Input on school superintendent search sought from Portland parents

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PORTLAND — Feedback gathered from parents at three community forums will be used to help develop a profile of the next superintendent of schools.

A forum will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, in the gymnasium of Lyman Moore Middle School on Auburn Street. Another is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, at Riverton Elementary School on Forest Avenue. The first public forum was held Tuesday, Feb. 14, at Ocean Avenue Elementary School.

The forums are facilitated by Proact Search, an Illinois-based company that specializes in recruiting education administrators. The company was hired by the School Board to conduct the search for a successor for Superintendent James C. Morse Sr., who will retire July 1.

Sarah Thompson, chairwoman of the Superintendent Search Committee, said Proact will facilitate a total of 16 forums, including the three public meetings. The others will be with “stakeholders” – administrators, employees and people from higher education and nonprofits, she said.

“We are forming the profile of what everybody would like in the next superintendent, what attributes they’re looking for,” Thompson said.

The forums, expected to last about 90 minutes, will focus on the district’s greatest strengths, prominent issues or concerns the district must face and the most desirable characteristics in a new superintendent.

Thompson said the School Board used the same process to hire Morse three years ago.

“It helped us formulate what the community was looking for,” she said. “When we interviewed people we had that as a guide to what we were looking for.”

Parents can also participate in the process by filling out a survey on the school district’s website, www.portlandschools.org.

Proact will create a rough draft of a compilation of attributes community members want in a superintendent after the forums are complete. The School Board will review the attributes at a workshop on Monday, Feb. 27. The workshop also will include a presentation by Proact.

Thompson said she expects the School Board on Tuesday, March 6, to approve a final position profile to be used for recruiting candidates. Proact will launch a website for the superintendent search in the next couple weeks.

Thompson said the board’s goal is to hire a new superintendent by the first or second week of June, but it will use an interim school chief if necessary. She said consultants from Proact have assured her this is the best time of the year to conduct a search and that some potential candidates have already asked for more information.

“We’re trying to keep a steady pace, but we’re also not rushing through the process because we don’t want to settle,” she said.

Gillian Graham can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or ggraham@theforecaster.net. Follow Gillian on Twitter: @grahamgillian.

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