South Portland school superintendent search down to 2 candidates

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The candidate pool to succeed Superintendent Suzanne Godin on July 1 has been narrowed to two.

“We had a total of 25 applicants,” School Board Chairman Dick Matthews announced Monday night, Feb. 9. The initial pool was winnowed to seven by members of the board and Assistant Superintendent Kathy Germani. From there, the nearly 20-person Superintendent Search Committee shaved the number to two.

The board is now reviewing references and qualifications for each candidate. 

The next round of interviews will be Monday, Feb. 23. After that, the board will hopefully pick a candidate, Matthews said.

That person will be revealed to the public and a community forum will be held soon after for the public to meet and ask questions of the finalist. The board will then finalize its decision at its first meeting in April. 

Matthews declined to identify the finalists.

“It’s tough because everybody wants to know what’s happening,” he said, “but obviously, under strict confidentiality, we have to do it this way.”  

Three-year plan

Later in the meeting, Andrew Wallace, director of technology, presented an updated, three-year Technology Plan.

“We believe that technology should be mobile, unobtrusive and customizable,” Wallace told the board. 

The primary tenets of the plan are the belief that “students should have equitable access to technology. This is something we strive to maintain at all eight schools,” Wallace said, and that students “will be provided with a range of experiences designed to develop the skills for jobs and life that is changing at a pace that we’ve never seen before.” 

In the next three years, Wallace said he and his team hope to facilitate more “whole-class technology” in kindergarten through fifth grade.

An example of this would be setting up each classroom for the teacher or students to display their work in a way that is visible to the entire class. 

“All of that has no meaning unless we have strong Wi-Fi,” specifically at the K-5 level where it is most needed, Wallace said. 

“As we move to consolidate with the city with some of our servers and resources, the connections between our buildings is increasingly important,” he said.

The board approved the plan unanimously. 

Water damage

Godin told the board that on Feb. 1, during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, “we had a steam valve that failed in Central Office.” The leak flooded the floor and “destroyed one office and part of another office,” she said.

Consequentially, because the walls are now retaining water, the walls will be cut open to replace the insulation with a foam core.

Godin said the problem could have been avoided if two valves has been replaced “at the appropriate time.” She didn’t specify if the valves had been neglected because of budget constraints or negligence.

Central Office staff will move to South Portland High School for the next six to eight weeks until their return to the renovated building in April, she said.

At the high school, the superintendent’s office will be in Room 221, Godin said. The finance office will be on the third floor, special education will be spread throughout the building.

“It will be tight, it will be resource-limited, but this is a crew that will make do and also make themselves hospitable to the high school, so that they don’t feel like kicking us out at the end,” Godin said. “At this point, this was the best resolution in a very short time period.” 

The cost of repairs will be covered by insurance, she said.  

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA.

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.