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School Committee Chooses MASC To Oversee Superintendent Search

Aug 21, 2015 12:57PM ● By Bill Gilman

Michael Gilbert, representing the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, speaks to the Tewksbury School Committee on Wednesday.

The Tewksbury School Committee has taken the first steps toward finding a successor for retiring Superintendent of Schools Dr. John O'Connor.
On Wednesday, the committee voted unanimously to enter into negotiations with the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) on a consulting contract to oversee the search process.
According to MASC representative Michael Gilbert, the cost for the search will include a $12,000 consulting fee, plus any added expenses, including advertising the position.
Before taking a vote, the committee heard a presentation from Gilbert, as well as one from Arthur Bettencourt, representing the New England School Development Council (NESDEC). The NESDEC oversaw the search that led to the hiring of O'Connor in 2010.
One of the big differences in the two proposals was cost. Bettencourt said the basic consulting fee for NESDEC was $14,560, before expenses and advertising. Both firms offer a two-year guarantee, which promises that if the committee does not find a suitable choice from among the candidates or if the new superintendent leaves within two years of being named to the job, the firm will conduct a second search at no charge (except for additional advertising).
"I think we have two excellent firms to choose from," said School Committee Chairperson Krissy Polimeno, before the vote.
During his presentation, Gilbert said the committee could expect around 35-40 candidates to apply for the position, down considerably from past searches.
"The (talent) pool is really a pond," said Gilbert. "There aren't a lot of people who want to do this job (of superintendent)."
According to Gilbert, the MASC has been doing superintendent searches since 1947 and does roughly 13-15 a year, all in Massachusetts. Gilbert, himself, oversees a handful of searches a year but only one at a time.
"You will have my full attention during this search process," he said.
Gilbert said his firm's initial screening would result in an estimated 12-15 candidates being presented to a local screening committee. That committee would then interview the candidates and present 3-5 finalists to the School Committee for consideration.
"By the time we get to the school committee, the (remaining) candidates have the skill set. It's a matter of finding the right fit for the community," said Gilbert. "We encourage you, that if you do not feel you have found the right fit from among the finalists to say no and we will start the process all over again."
Gilbert recommends the screening committee should include 11-13 people representing parents, teachers, town leaders and other residents. He recommends that the five members of the school committee should not participate directly participate directly on the screening committee.
The next step in the process will be for the committee to sit down with Gilbert and the MASC to negotiate the specific terms of the contract. From there, the position will be advertised and candidates will be sought.
If all goes smoothly, it is expected that the committee could name a new Superintendent of Schools by early January.

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