New London begins search for new school superintendent

New London - The search for a new superintendent of the city's schools began in earnest Thursday night as the Board of Education appointed a committee to oversee the search and hired a consulting firm to run it.

The 14-member committee that will manage the search will include all seven Board of Education members, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio, Mitchell College President Mary Ellen Jukoski, former city councilor and public school parent Adam Sprecace, the presidents of the teachers and administrators unions, Probate Judge Matt Greene and Laura Burfoot, a representative from New London Parent Advocates.

"We will have the input of all the board members, some parents and other people who have experience with these kinds of searches," board President Margaret Mary Curtin said. "I think we have a really good, well-rounded search committee."

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

Also Thursday, the board unanimously agreed to enter into a contract with McPherson & Jacobson, a Nebraska-based firm, to conduct a nationwide search for a new superintendent.

"I was very impressed with this firm, particularly with the transparency aspect. They will let us see every single application that comes in," Curtin said. "And this firm will work very closely with our search committee."

During a presentation to the board earlier this month, owner and CEO Thomas Jacobson said his firm has experience working with urban districts and school systems that are under state involvement, as New London's is.

"I think this is going to be a great opportunity. I think there are people out there who say 'this is my specialty,' working with districts just like this one," he told the board. "I think we're going to find candidates who will see this as a great opportunity."

Last year, McPherson & Jacobson, which has placed more than 500 superintendents nationwide, led the search for a new superintendent in Groton. That search was the first the firm conducted in Connecticut.

Jacobson has said that the search consultant will hold meetings with school staff, students, parents and others to get the community's input on what qualities an ideal candidate should possess. He also said the board should expect the search process to take about three months.

c.young@theday.com

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