Superintendent firm chosen

The Wilton Board of Education has settled on a search firm to assist in the selection of a new superintendent to replace the retiring Dr. Gary Richards.

“We started out with 10 search firms, both national and regional,” Vice Chairman Gilmore Bray said. Mr. Bray served as chairman for the meeting in place of Bruce Likly, who was away on business. “We brought it down to two, and we have decided on Hazard, Young, Attea Associates.”

John Chambers, senior associate and former superintendent in Bronxville and Chappaqua, N.Y., made the presentation to the board on behalf of HYA. Deborah Raizes, another senior associate, will also be a part of the team assisting the committee.

“You obviously have an appreciation for [Dr. Richards’] work. Gary Richards has been an exemplar for other superintendents,” Mr. Chambers said. “I’m confident we can be helpful to the search committee.”

Mr. Chambers said the process will run in four phases: planning, recruitment, selection, and appointment. He indicated interviews of focus groups and individuals would be held in Wilton Oct. 29-30.

“We have already sat with the search committee, and laid out a calendar for our work,” Mr. Chambers said.

He said the search firm will ask about the strengths, concerns and characteristics of the community. Any member of the school community is also welcome to full out at online survey at The survey, which will be available until Nov. 1, is open to students, administrators, faculty members, or community members with or without children in the district.

“We do that partly because we like to disaggregate the data across those groups, and look for matches, or with equal importance, places where the perceptions are not the same,” Mr. Chambers said.

The recruitment phase will involve advertising in Education Week magazine, as well as professional listings both online and in print. Prospective superintendents may also apply at HYA’s site.

“Hazard Young has the most detailed application I’ve ever seen in my experience as a school superintendent,” he said. “People who fill out that application have to be serious about the job.”

HYA can also recruit candidates via confidential phone calls, references, and interviews.

The company boasts over 25 years of service to school districts, with more than 1,000 searches for educational executives.

Mr. Chambers also said the search committee would not meet a candidate without the person being approved by Ms. Raizes and himself. They will also investigate and review the candidates’ references.

The company guarantees it will be with the search committee from the beginning until the end of the process. Its policy includes a “redo” policy, which guarantees that HYA will conduct a new search if the new superintendent departs within two years with the same board in place.

The Wilton Public School District website announced there will be two meetings. The first will be on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. at Middlebrook, which will be open to the community. The second will be a parent forum, on the morning of Oct. 30 at 9:30 at Trackside Teen Center.