NL's critical choice

It is encouraging to see the progress New London is making in its search for a new superintendent of schools. There is no reason the city cannot attract top-level candidates for the position.

The search committee last week announced its top criteria in selecting a superintendent and the priorities appear spot on. Working with a consulting firm, the Board of Education has sought input from the community, staff, students and city officials in framing expectations for the new leader. This groundwork is showing up in the quality of the search effort.

Points of emphasis in selecting the next superintendent will be experience in working in urban systems that offer school choice. Wanted is someone with a record of accomplishment working within a program that successfully narrowed the achievement gap for students coming from low-income households. The search committee is also stressing budgetary experience.

Working with the state, New London is transitioning to an all-magnet school district, a move that will bring in more state aid, but more importantly give families educational options while drawing in students from outside the city. Along with the city's established charter schools, it will make New London unique in the diversity of its educational choices.

Because of its relatively small size and the level of state involvement, New London is a place where improvement could occur comparatively fast. State officials recognize this and would love to offer New London as an example of how things can improve. The opportunity to play a leading role in this exciting period, to have a chance to accomplish substantial change, should attract strong candidates. The application deadline arrives today.

This newspaper opposed the board's decision not to extend the contract of Superintendent Nicholas Fischer. Some of the criticisms aimed at him were unfair. The city's history of poor treatment of superintendents could be the one negative in its search efforts.

However, the board made its decision and the process moves forward. The hiring of the next superintendent will be a critical decision, one the school board must get right. As for how it is preparing for that decision - so far, so good.

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