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Starting the Super Search (again)

For the 3rd time in 7 years, Greenwich Public Schools seeks to hire a leader.

The will meet on Monday afternoon, Nov. 28, in  executive session with the newly-hired superintendent search firm, Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA) said Board Chairman Steve Anderson. Members were asked to "bring their calendars" to plan the process that will follow through the end of the school year.

At the Nov. 17 board meeting, member Nancy Kail announced that the board chose the Chicago-based firm to lead a search for Greenwich's new school chief.  HYA, which was founded in 1987, was one of 3 firms that responded to the Request For Proposal ("RFP") issued by the district earlier this school year.

HYA has been utilized in the recent past by Greenwich; first during the 2008-9 school year after Dr. Betty Sternberg announced that she would not be seeking a renewal of her contract and then again during the 2009-2010 school year when the district embarked on a nationwide search for a permanent headmaster for . Those searches resulted in the hiring of Dr. Sidney Freund and Chris Winters, respectively.

Kail noted that while the board does not vote in executive session (when the search firm was chosen) she said that HYA "emerged as the clear favorite."

Anderson disclosed that HYA will be paid $21,000 consulting fee plus expenses (such as site visits to candidates, advertising, etc.) to manage this search with firm Senior Associate and Chairman of the Board Bill Attea at the helm and local HYA personnel assisting him including former commissioner of the Department of Education of New Jersey Bill Librera.

Kail added that the selling points for HYA were that they have previous experience working in the Greenwich district and that Attea himself was a superintendent from a large, diverse suburban district. In addition to the search strategy experience, HYA and Attea have "vast knowledge" in how boards can work effectively including "workshops and retreats addressing  accountability, board governance, evaluation, goal setting, strategic planning and teamwork development," according the the HYA website. This was "a huge attraction" for Kail who noted that half of the board will be new with four members being sworn in later this month.

Kail, who has been serving as the board's coordinator on the super search, stated that at today's meeting, the board will review the general search process, synchronize calendars to establish interview dates and answer the burning question — "how will we involve the community?"

Right from the start, Anderson's priority is to "create the right set of expectations" in order to ensure that everyone involved is well aware of "their roles and responsibilities."

Ideally, Anderson said, the process will begin in December and early January with building of a list of desired superintendent attributes. Community forums will also play a role. In January and February, the hope is to "cultivate candidates." Anderson said that he believes it is important to look "both inside and outside" for candidates. Kail emphasized that this is very much a national search stating that the intent is to look both "far and wide"

According to the HYA website, typically "multi-phased national searches begin with background review and meeting with the board to ensure  district needs are clearly articulated." The next step is usually "the creation of a leadership profile report" followed by "an aggressive recruitment by HYA consultants."  

When asked about the possibility of parents or community leaders sitting on the super search committee, Anderson said that this will be one of the first questions put before the new board, which will be sworn on next Tuesday, Nov. 29 at the budget public hearing. 

Greenwich PTA Council President Lisa Beth Savitz has said several times this school year that parents would like a seat at the table, most recently at the last board of education meeting. "Please include parents and teachers in the superintendent search in a meaningful way as part of the process and not just as a data point-survey or focus group," Savitz said. "Parents can serve on high-profile interview committees with confidentiality intact. We have been doing so for years with Principal hiring, including out-of-district recruitment, occasioning no dampening effect on willingness to seek employment here."

When pressed whether he believed there will be expanded involvement by stakeholders other than the board members, "Anything is a possibility," said Anderson.

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