By Ann Needle
The Nashoba School Committee officially kicked off it s search for a new superintendent at its Jan. 13 meeting with a workshop that set the time line and expectations for the process.
Field Director Dorothy Presser of the MA Association of School Committees (the Nashoba School Committee’s search partner) cautioned the group that the time line was very tight, given the SC aims to have a new superintendent in place by July 1. An effort to spur community participation in the process begins almost immediately, with a superintendent hopefully appointed by May 1.
In its first step, the SC targeted this week for getting a questionnaire onto its web site, polling everyone connected to Nashoba— parents, faculty, community members— on what qualities they are looking for in a superintendent. (Look for the survey at www.nrsd.net.)
Presser advised the SC to put together focus groups before Jan. 29, also aimed at finding out what residents want from a superintendent. Though the SC decides how to select participants from district residents, Presser explained these focus groups usually are open to anyone in a school district, whether or not they have students in the schools. In Nashoba’s case, she suggested three to four groups, with a session in each town and perhaps one at Nashoba Regional High School. But, she noted, “Quite honestly, now that we have the capability to do online surveys, focus group participation is very limited.”
After that, using the information gleaned from the questionnaires and focus groups, the MASC will advertise nationally for candidates, Presser said. The SC agreed to meet the first week of February to finalize wording for ads and the brochure the MASC sends to superintendents across the country from its data base. Presser mentioned that printing and production costs are separate from the $9,500 search fee, but capped at $2,500.
With the application period running from late February to March 11, Presser said her experience shows that, regardless of how long that period goes, “The applications will all come in the last two days.”
Presser recommended the screening committee—which reviews the applications and selects the semi-finalists —be chosen from across the community in time for an orientation on March 9. She explained that the SC should aim for a balance of parents, teachers and administrators, residents at large, and town officials. The SC then voted unanimously for a 12-member screening committee composed of a parent from each town, three teachers, one school principal, two SC members, an administrator from Nashoba’s central office, a town official, and a community member at large.
The SC settled on choosing parents and the community member at large via lottery. Presser said town officials in regional districts usually agree among themselves on who should be their representative on the screening committee. As for teachers, Interim Superintendent Dr. Curtis Bates said he will meet with the teachers interested in joining the committee and work out who will be selected. The SC will send out a letter to Nashoba residents soliciting screening committee members in the next few weeks, and anyone interested will be asked to respond.
After the appointed committee is in place and selects the semi-finalists, these candidates will be interviewed by March 25. After finalists are chosen, Presser said each candidate normally tours the entire district, with a meet-and-greet session set up for the public to attend. A few SC members also would visit each candidates’ district. If a candidate must travel a fair distance, Presser said it is customary to pay his or her travel expenses in the finalist round.
As for contract negotiations that hopefully begin on May 1, Presser suggested advertising a salary range of $80,000 to $200,000, based on the districts Nashoba is comparable to, though the SC has yet to make a final decision on that range.
Budget and Food Policy Decisions
As the Committee considers whether and how to change the format of its budget reporting, they voted unanimously to spend up to $6,500 to bring in the MA Association of School Business Officials for a two-day consultation on Nashoba’s financial reporting system. But, with the final 2016/17 budget due to Nashoba’s towns by March 15, the SC agreed with Assistant Superintendent George King that any changes it adopts will wait until after that budget cycle.
The SC also voted unanimously to accept a slightly updated Life Threatening Allergy policy, which first went into effect last June.