Portland School Board prepares national search for superintendent; 4 positions to be added at elementary schools

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PORTLAND — After reviewing five proposals, the School Board is expected to hire an Illinois-based recruiting firm, Proact Search, to find a replacement for retiring Superintendent of Schools James C. Morse Sr., who is retiring in June.

Superintendent Search Committee Chairwoman Sarah Thompson said the board received some unsolicited proposals and some recommendations from education resources in the community.

“We viewed all the proposals and met with two of them,” Thompson said.

She said the board had a video conference with the president of Proact and its regional president in New York, Steve Kupfler, who would head up the team in charge of finding Morse’s replacement.

The company has done education-related recruitment all over the United States, and does between five and eight superintendent searches per year.

In the work plan the company submitted as part of its proposal, it states that it averages 93 candidates for superintendent searches. The search will cost Portland $24,750 plus the company’s expenses, including travel to meet with candidates, website postings, and postage, estimated to be between $1,000 and $3,000. Additionally, marketing and recruitment costs are estimated to be between $2,000 and $4,000.

Thompson said one of the highlights of the proposal is Proact’s plan to set up a website for the district that would keep the public up to date about the process and provide a high level of transparency.

If Proact is approved, the time-line would move quickly, beginning with stakeholder meetings this month; posting, recruiting and advertising the position in February; an application deadline in March; screening and background checks in April, and initial interviews in May.

Ideally, the board would approve a candidate in June.

“I think it’s doable,” Thompson said. “It’s just a guide. If we need to slow down, we can. We’re not going to settle. Someone’s got big shoes to fill.”

The School Board is also scheduled to vote Tuesday night on creating four new positions at two of the district’s elementary schools.

Federal grants would be used to pay for an assessment and intervention specialist to provide support to East End Community School students who are struggling with their school work, particularly those who are learning English. If the position is approved, the salary is $53,000 per year, prorated to $32,000 for the rest of this school year.

The board will also be asked to approve three ed tech positions, all for the Ocean Avenue Elementary School and all required under federal special education laws. The estimated $81,000 for salary and benefits for the three positions for the remainder of this year would be offset by cuts to the school’s technology funds, and dedicated hiring savings funds.

If the three positions are required next year, the estimated cost will be $124,000.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.