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Groton - The Board of Education, which plans to hire a new superintendent by the end of August, held the first of several forums Monday to ask the community what it wants in the next school leader.
Search consultant McPherson & Jacobson, LLC held three forums, meeting with high school students and teachers Monday afternoon, then holding an open forum Monday night. The consultant will meet with school administrators, central office staff, parent teacher organization representatives, and non-teaching staff today, then will report to the school board at 7 p.m. in the school administration offices.
A little more than a dozen people attended Monday night's community forum.
Town Councilor Karen Morton said the next superintendent should know what Groton's been through.
"They're going to have to rebuild community trust between the teaching staff, the parents, and to some extent the children themselves," she said.
The school board fired former Superintendent Paul Kadri on March 5 for alleged mistreatment of employees, 10 months after he was placed on leave. The decision came after the school board ordered an investigation into claims he was harassing and intimidating employees, most of them women. Kadri has maintained that he did nothing wrong.
School Board Chairwoman Kirsten Hoyt said in an email that the district early this month advertised the position in Education Week and through associations, colleges, universities and other websites. The board will close the position to candidates on July 18, she said.
The board is then expected to meet in executive session Aug. 12 to review the resumes of those who apply. Groups including school board and community members would interview the finalists in mid-August.
Those who spoke at Monday's forum said they want a strong leader, an effective communicator and one who knows what it's like in the trenches. They also said they would like a superintendent with a solid financial background and one who has lasted in a community.
Robert Zuliani, a former school board member, said the next superintendent must be able to build relationships, "in that he can guide people and not only convince, but influence and guide and lead the community."
Others said they want a leader who listens to staff, is willing to try something new, but also knows when to get out if it doesn't work.
"I would like the new superintendent to be more connected to the students themselves," said Michael Gaiewski, 17. He said high school and middle school students schools don't have a voice and would like one, perhaps through a monthly meeting with the superintendent.
Interim Superintendent John Ramos leaves at the end of the month, and Sean McKenna, the assistant superintendent for curriculum, is expected to take over July 1 until a superintendent is found.