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Stonington - The Board of Education has reversed its initial position and will now allow residents to serve on the search committee for the new superintendent of schools.
The board had previously said that educational consultants and experts had strongly discouraged the board from having residents on the committee because they may leak candidates' names to the public.
Board Chairman Gail MacDonald had said in May that some candidates may be reluctant to apply because of that concern and would be worried their interest in the job may get back to their current employer.
"All the advice we had received was that it was not a good thing to do," MacDonald said Monday.
Several residents, including Democratic Town Committee Chairman Ray Trebisacci, had criticized the board for its initial position of not including residents.
But MacDonald said interim Superintendent Paul Smotas, who is also serving as the search consultant, said it would be fine to have members from various groups on the committee, including residents.
"So we're taking his advice," she said.
Several parents, residents and business owners will now be among the up to 11-member committee that will interview the initial candidates and then recommend finalists to the school board. The board will interview the finalists and then select a new superintendent. The other members of the search committee will be teachers, administrators, police and school officials.
MacDonald said Smotas, who has already been reviewing resumes from applicants, would like the committee to begin interviewing candidates immediately so the school board can select a finalist for the job in September.
"He wants to move quickly. People are finding jobs. A lot of districts are looking for superintendents and we will have a lot of competition," she said.
MacDonald added that candidates who have contracts in other districts may have to give up to three months notice so the new superintendent may not be able to start work until Jan. 1.
The board is looking for a replacement to fill the vacancy created by the resignation on June 30 of Leanne Masterjoseph, who left after two and a half years to take a job at a Hartford charter school.