Portland School Board expected to pick firm for superintendent search

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PORTLAND — The School Board planned a third executive session Tuesday in its search to find a firm to help hire the next superintendent of schools.

On Dec. 8, the board held a first reading of an order to allocate no more than $25,000 for the search firm.

Chairwoman Marnie Morrione said at the meeting that the sum is just a maximum. Since the board has not hired a firm, she said there is no way to know what the cost will be, but the board did not want to exceed $25,000.

The funds will be included in the School Department budget.

The superintendent search committee, chaired by Morrione and fellow board member Anna Trevorrow, held two executive sessions in November to meet with interested consulting firms.

Morrione would not disclose which firms or how many had been interviewed, but said the committee would know more after its Dec. 15 closed-door meeting.

“On (Dec. 15), the intent is for us to decide whether we are going to go with one of those firms, and second, which one of those (to go with),” Morrione said.

Should the board ultimately not select a firm from the applicants, it will have to issue a request for proposals, which Morrione said would delay the process by two to three months. She added that would not be “in the best interest of finding a superintendent within this year.”

“It is very unlikely we won’t select (a firm) from these candidates,” she said Dec. 10.

Morrione said the committee so far has been doing reference checks on the firms with other school districts who have used them.

She said the full board will likely vote on Jan. 5 to allocate the funding, assuming a firm be selected. The firm would be slated to begin work “no later than the middle of January,” she added.

The firm that is 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 2012 search for the previous superintendent, which landed Emmanuel Caulk. Caulk resigned in 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.

School Board members Jenna Vendil and Laurie Davis also serve on the committee, which was formed over the summer. The hope is to have a new superintendent in place by next July.

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

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 cellis@theforecaster.net.