Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Superintendent Search Starts

In a single-topic special meeting Tuesday, the school board voted to hire an Illinois firm to conduct the search for a new superintendent.

Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates of Waukegan, Ill. will receive $17,000 for the search and an additional $6,000 for expenses. On its web site, the firm calls itself the “nation’s largest executive search firm serving public school districts.”

The search is necessary due to the sudden resignation on June 6 of Schools Superintendent Paula Howard, who was hired in June 2003. On June 8, the board hired veteran administrator Peter Carter as interim superintendent.

In the last search after former Schools Superintendent Larry Leverett resigned in February 2003, the district engaged the New Jersey School Boards Association. Howard emerged as the sole finalist after competitor Julian Stafford withdrew on the eve of a public forum in June 2003.

Since Howard’s resignation, several of her top staffers have been found to be lacking proper credentials. Some came along with Howard from the Newark school district, where Howard was formerly an assistant superintendent.

Whoever becomes the new superintendent will have to build a credible cabinet.

At Tuesday’s work and study meeting following the special meeting, former school board appointee and frequent candidate David Graves questioned several Curriculum & Instruction items, noting there was no C & I director in place.

These are among the additional questions to be answered once a superintendent is named.

The school board will meet again next week (Aug. 21) at 7 p.m. at Emerson Swing School, 1700 W. Front St., according to a school board schedule published Aug 10 that did not mention the special meeting.

Also in a pet peeve for many, the agenda was not online before the meeting, This writer picked up an agenda at the Plainfield Public Library. But again, it did not mention the special meeting.

Communication! How important can it be? We need to know in advance about these meetings in case we are among the lucky few (retired, at large, committed to the public interest) who can or will show up.

--Bernice Paglia


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