Stonington – The school system has announced that 24 people have applied to be the district’s new Superintendent of Schools.
Candidates come from 10 different states, with the majority from New England, New York and New Jersey, according to the announcement. A candidate comes from the school system.
The school board is looking for a new superintendent to replace Van Riley, who will retire at the end of the current school year after leading the district for the past nine years. The board hopes to choose a new superintendent by April 1, with that person starting work July 1. The job currently brings in over $200,000 a year.
Additionally, the board has slightly delayed hiring a new high school principal to replace Mark Friese, who is stepping down July 1, until after the new superintendent is hired. This will allow the new superintendent to have input into the hiring of the new director. Riley, however, will make the final decision on who gets hired.
The school board now uses a candidate profile that details the characteristics, skills, knowledge and experience the city wants in its new superintendent to screen candidates and eventually select the person it wants to hire. The profile was developed with input from 275 people who participated in forums and surveys. The profile can be found on the school district’s website, stoningtonschools.org.
The school board hired Elizabeth Osga, a consultant to the New England School Development Council, to develop the candidate profile and assist with the hiring process. She is a former Deputy Superintendent of Stonington Schools and was Connecticut’s 2011 Superintendent of the Year while leading the Lyme-Old Lyme District.
School board president Farouk Rajab said on Tuesday that the superintendent’s selection committee, made up of all seven school board members, had online access to resumes, letters of recommendation, references and other information. of each candidate. Each committee member now ranks their top candidates based on their review of this information and how it matches the candidate’s profile. On Wednesday, committee members will meet to discuss their rankings and choose five to seven candidates to interview next week.
After these interviews, the committee will select two to three candidates who will be interviewed for a second and final time.
Rajab said the discussion among committee members was whether to conduct the second interviews in public. The board will then choose a new superintendent.
What the board is looking for
The candidate profile indicates that the school board is seeking a superintendent who develops trusting and valued relationships with all stakeholders in the school system, has substantial teaching and instructional leadership experience, communicates well, and “ communicates a vision for the district that is forward-thinking, inclusive and accessible.”
In addition to the two-page list of ideal characteristics, there is also a list of six “urgent tasks and challenges” for the new superintendent.
They include leading the district as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic; ensure that quality staff are recruited, developed and retained; work together with the whole community; provide school system stakeholders with accurate, timely and informative messages using a variety of media platforms and launch “a new narrative” on school system finances.
“Issues of transparency, prudence, adequacy and frugality have strained the relationship between the district, the board of selectors, the finance board and community members,” the listing reads.
The sixth challenge is to build trust in the school system in the district and community. He says that while the pandemic may have strained trust and relationships, “there were clearly earlier underlying tensions” that date back to controversy over how school officials have dealt with the many allegations of sexual harassment against former high school teacher and coach Tim Chokas as well as “continuing perceptions” that the district hasn’t been as transparent as it should be, especially when it comes to its management financial.
Finance council members have particularly criticized school officials in the past for not being transparent about district finances, purchasing heavy equipment that the finance council has not funded, and sometimes refusing to meet to answer questions. .