School Board begins search for Portland's next superintendent

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PORTLAND — The School Board has hired a consulting firm to do the groundwork in finding a new superintendent, and held a meeting to begin that search Monday evening.

The board retained Proact Search, an Illinois-based company that specializes in recruiting education administrators. Six of the nine board members, including the three that make up the ad hoc superintendent search committee, met Monday with Proact’s Northeast regional president, Stephen Kupfer, to lay the foundation for their hunt for the next leader of the city’s school system.

Proact CEO Gary Solomon joined in the conversation via a Skype chat projected onto the wall of a computer lab-turned-meeting room at Portland Arts and Technology High School on Allen Avenue.

With Superintendent James C. Morse Sr. set to retire June 30, the search committee will have to follow a strict time line to replace him by summer.

Hiring Proact will reduce the manual labor that board members have to expend on the search, search committee head Sarah Thompson said. It will also make the search more efficient, she said, and most importantly, expand the search as wide as possible.

“We wanted to work with a company that had broad exposure across the United States,” Thompson said. “We’re not going to settle (for anything less). “Portland is too special a place. And it’s not just our superintendent. It’s the city’s.”

Proact’s services, which will cost the city $24,750, Thompson said, will include organizing a series of community forums and other communication methods that will allow Portland residents to give their input on the attributes they would like to see in the next superintendent.

“We want to include everybody and anybody that wants to be included,” Thompson said.

Opportunities for community members to engage n the search process via live forums and web-based surveys will begin in about three weeks, Kupfer said.

Once the search team has received input from residents, they’ll work to create a list of candidate requirements and begin advertising the position in print and electronic sources.

They’ll also work to provide candidates with information about Portland and the state, in hopes of convincing potential superintendents that “they want to be here for more than just the salary,” search committee member Jaimey Caron said.

Andrew Cullen can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow him on Twitter: @ACullenFore.

Sidebar Elements

Portland School Board member Justin Costa, center, speaks at the board’s superintendent search meeting at the Portland Arts and Technology High School on Monday evening, while board member Ed Bryan, right, and Proact Search consultant Stephen Kupfer listen. The board hopes to hire a successor to Superintendent James C. Morse Sr. by July 1.