Notes from the Board Table: Community may join in superintendent search
As I said in my last update, hiring a new superintendent is the most significant responsibility a board of education will face. To that point, the Wilton BOE has been working deliberatively and with great purpose to identify a superintendent to succeed Dr. Gary Richards, who will retire in the coming months. We have made progress in our work, and I’d like to provide a brief update.
First, I am pleased to report that following an extensive review of executive search firms, we have enlisted the services of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA) to assist in this endeavor. We selected HYA because we were impressed with their nationwide focus, emphasis on seeking broad community input for determining candidate criteria, and proactive approach of reaching out to qualified candidates (as opposed to limiting the search only to candidates who self-identify by responding to advertisements and job postings).
Representatives from HYA attended our Oct. 10 board meeting and outlined a four-step process: Planning, Recruitment, Selection, and Appointment. The planning phase has actually already begun, and will consist of an online survey open to all members of the Wilton community, along with targeted focus groups and a series of one-on-one interviews. In addition, a community forum is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. in the Middlebrook auditorium, at which time residents will have an opportunity to share their thoughts about desirable characteristics of a new superintendent.
I urge everyone to attend the Oct. 29 meeting, and to take a few minutes to complete the online survey, which can be accessed on the district website: wilton.k12.ct.us. The survey will be accessible until Nov. 1.
Feedback from these initiatives, along with information gleaned from prior focus groups conducted by RazorFocus, will be used to assemble a “leadership profile.” That profile will help HYA identify potential candidates who possess the experience and characteristics that we decide are of critical importance. From that pool of candidates, we will hopefully select our new superintendent.
Our goal is to have a new superintendent identified by the end of the year, which would coincide with Dr. Richards’ announced retirement date. However, Dr. Richards has graciously offered to delay his departure pending the status of our replacement efforts. Dr. Richards’ generous offer alleviates any time pressure, and allows us to take the time necessary to find the best candidate.
I mentioned that hiring a superintendent is the board’s most important responsibility. The second most important responsibility — approving an operating budget — was also on the agenda at last week’s meeting.
Budget Season 2014-15 officially kicked off with a review of “assumptions” that will guide the administration in developing an operating budget. Because our district’s priorities do not change dramatically from year to year, neither do our budget assumptions. For example, this year’s budget assumptions reflect our ongoing commitments as we seek to:
• Provide for a rigorous, relevant curriculum using best practices in instruction, assessment, and digital learning;
• Continue to attract and retain a highly competent faculty and staff;
• Seek to maintain preferred practices concerning class sizes;
• Provide the necessary resources to address the social and emotional needs of students.
You probably will not hear too much about the budget over the next few weeks, but be assured the administration and the board will be working to develop a cost-efficient spending plan to fund all curriculum and associated costs. The public will get its first peek at the budget in January, when Dr. Richards will unveil the “Superintendent’s Budget.”
There is one final item of special interest I am pleased to announce. The board received a proposal to rename and dedicate the Cider Mill School Library in honor of Ginny Ricco, the school’s beloved principal who passed away in June. Dr. Richards presented the board with detailed information about Ginny’s contributions to our school community. Pursuant to board policy, we will review this proposal and schedule a vote after a 90-day public comment period.
Our next board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. in the Wilton High School professional library. I hope you will join us if your schedule permits.