Report lists what New London wants in next school superintendent

New London - The consulting firm hired by the Board of Education to conduct a search for a new superintendent on Tuesday released a report - compiled with input from eight meetings with staff, students, city officials and community members - that paints a picture of what those groups expect from a new district leader.

Based on the report, members of the search committee compiled its top criteria for a successful candidate, including experience with magnet or choice schools, a track record of closing the achievement gap for students from low-income households, a strong financial background and experience in a similarly urban district.

In the report's introduction, the search consultants summarized the sentiments they heard most often when they asked what issues the new superintendent needs to be prepared to handle.

"Communication is very poor across the district. This has fostered mistrust and a sense that it is a deliberate effort to avoid having to engage, consider others' input or provide a rationale for decisions," consultants for McPherson & Jacobson wrote. "Many staff feel burned out, morale is very low, turnover is high and many are of the opinion that people are not necessarily leaving because of low pay, but because they can't continue to work where they don't feel supported or valued."

In general, the groups agreed that New London is "a small, close-knit town whose residents embrace diversity and value the richness it brings to community life," according to the report.

The district's students and the possibilities that come with the city's transition to an all-magnet school district make New London a good school system for students and staff.

After reviewing the report, members of the search committee met Monday with consultant Sharon Cox to discuss the next steps in the search process and develop interview questions for the eventual finalists.

The vacancy is being advertised with the American Association of School Administrators, Education Week magazine and the McPherson & Jacobson website.

An announcement of the vacancy was also sent to state school boards and superintendent associations throughout the United States, the firm said.

Sunday is the deadline for candidates to submit an application for the job, which has been advertised since Feb. 17.

"After that date, the consultants will begin reviewing the completed files and evaluating the candidates against the established criteria and stakeholders' interests," McPherson & Jacobson said in a statement. "The consultants will be conducting extensive background checks on the candidates."

Last April, the previous school board voted 6-1 to not renew the contract of Superintendent Nicholas A. Fischer, whose last day on the job will be June 30.

On April 8, the 14-person search committee will, with the consultants, review the applicants and select which candidates it wants to interview the following week.

The Board of Education is expected to hire the new superintendent by May 1.

c.young@theday.com

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