Search Underway for New Barnstable Superintendent of Schools

Barnstable SchoolBARNSTABLE – The advertisement has been posted and the search has begun for a new Barnstable Schools Superintendent.

“The search is open right now. The deadline for applications is October 9 and from then on, the search committee will take over sorting through resumes and deciding which candidates to interview,” Barnstable School Committee Chair Margeaux Weber said.

Weber spoke during a sparsely attended forum yesterday morning at West Villages Elementary School. The forum was set up for parents and other community members to comment on what qualities they would like to see in a new superintendent. Having one of two forums during the day was meant as a way for parents to participate who are unable to attend night meetings.

A second forum will be held Thursday, September 24, at 7 p.m. at Hyannis West Elementary School on West Main Street in Hyannis.

Members of the community who want to comment on the search but who cannot attend the forum are also encouraged to take an online poll that can be accessed through the school department website.

“What we’re going through right now is the process of deciding what experience and characteristics we’re going to be looking for in our candidates and we’re trying to do that by listening to the community at these forums. We’re having forums with teachers and administrators and even some high school students,” Weber said.

Weber said she expects the committee will be interviewing candidates at the beginning of November and have recommendations to go forward to the school committee by mid to late November.

Weber had also been on the committee that found previous school superintendent Dr. Mary Czajkowski.

Czajkowski left July 1 after four years in Barnstable to take a job running the Lexington school district.

The Barnstable school superintendent position has a salary range of $175,000 to $200,000.

The planned start date for the position is July 1. School District Attorney Bill Butler is serving as interim superintendent in the meantime.

Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, is conducting the search in collaboration with the Cape Cod Collaborative, which conducted the last search.

Koocher said the town is well positioned to get top candidates.

The salary range, he said, “makes Barnstable highly competitive. That’s a good economic package. I think anybody would be well served to have that package as as superintendent.”

Starting the search at this time is also a positive step, Koocher said.

“Barnstable is getting an early start. There are probably half a dozen districts [in this region] out looking at this particular point,” he said. Statewide, there are about a dozen districts looking, including, according to Koocher, Granby, Narragansett Regional, Wayland, Canton, Tewksbury, and Dover-Sherborn Regional. Brookline’s superintendent just announced that she is looking, so that town will be searching soon as well.

“This would be a very attractive superintendency because the district is respected. It’s a district that has a history of handling its issues. The district is well-managed so a superintendent that comes into the Barnstable Public Schools would take a good district and be charged with continuous improvement,” he said.

Koocher said that candidates look closely at the history of a district and by that yardstick, Barnstable stands up well.

“This is not a district that needs to be rebuilt out of chaos. It’s not a district that’s recovering from a corruption issue. It’s not a district that’s dealing with severe chronic underachievement. But it is a district that has challenges that are formidable but surmountable,” he said.

Koocher said that among Barnstable’s challenges is a highly transient population. “The district is responsible for serving these high needs students. It’s a challenge that not every district has. That makes the superintendency of Barnstable unique,” he said.

He said competing with local charter schools is also a challenge. Sturgis Charter Public School with two campuses and 800 high school students is located in Hyannis and attracts top students.

For parents and other community members who attend tomorrow’s forum, Koocher will ask a range of questions. He said he wants people to speak on what they like about the Barnstable public schools and what strengths the district has that a new superintendent should know about.

“If a district has a great tradition of excellence in a particular area or if they are very proud of pilot programs or some of their initiatives, you want to get that stuff out in front, so new people will understand that this is important,” he said.

He will also ask what improvements need to be made and where areas of growth need to happen.

“That’s where a lot of the parents and community people can be very helpful, as well as the faculty. Teachers are very constructive in that particular area,” he said.

Attendees will be asked what skills and professional abilities they would like to see in their next superintendent.

Finally, Koocher said, he asks for other comments. “We always ask what else do we need to know, because if you came here wanting to talk about something else related to the superintendency, we want to hear it,” he said.

All of the comments from the forums, along with the survey results, will get transcribed and shared with the candidates and the search committee, he said.

Czajkowski made her announcement that she would be leaving last winter, and Koocher said there have already been phone inquiries about the job.

“Some of them are people that we’re pretty excited about. That said, in a superintendent search, 80 to 90 percent of your candidates file their applications in the last week of the process. This is a procrastinating group of people in general,” he said.

Koocher said the pool of applicants will likely see people who are currently superintendents, as well as people who have been professionally preparing to be superintendents, assistant superintendents, directors of pupil services and special education directors.

But, he said, the pool of applicants is not as large as it was a generation ago. “The early retirement system in Massachusetts coaxes superintendents out of the system in their late 50s, whereas a generation ago, people worked to 70 routinely,” he said.

One of Czajkowski’s initiatives had been to set up a leadership training seminar that dozens of administrators took part in.

Weber said, “We had extreme success with that in terms of moving internal candidates up and preparing teacher leaders and administrator leaders. We’re going to reap those benefits for years.”

Weber said she has not heard about any internal candidates at this time, but it is still early in the process.

She said there will not be a preference for internal candidates. “We’re looking for the best qualified candidate. We’re going to look forward to seeing what’s out there,” she said.

In addition to Weber, the search committee includes School Committee member Stephanie Ellis; Barnstable Town Councilors Sara Cushing and John Norman; Assistant Superintendent Kristen Harmon; Hyannis West Elementary School Principal Kathi Amato; Centerville Elementary School Principal Matt Scheufele; Barnstable West Barnstable Elementary School teacher Kelly Lawrence; Barnstable High School teacher Catherine Richards; parent Moira Bundschuh; parent and member of Special Education Parents Advisory Council member Kathy Bent; community member and town of Barnstable Community Services Director Lynne Poyant; and community member and former school administrator Sheila Burns. The town’s Human Resources Director Bill Cole is serving as an advisor to the committee, and Brooke Styche, president of the Barnstable Teachers Association, is serving as the liaison to that association.

By LAURA M. RECKFORD, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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