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Superintendent Search Goes National

Hartford School Board

De La Torre, Vanessa

September 18, 2013

The school board plans to move forward with a national search for the city's next superintendent after revising its policy Tuesday that addresses a leadership change.

Board Chairman Matthew Poland said the board will solicit proposals from consulting firms in the next month and hire one to find a successor to Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, whose three-year contract ends in mid-2014.

The plan is to "look across the country to see if we can find someone who can help us go forward from here," Poland said. His goal is to have a new superintendent chosen by April for a July 1 start date.

"We really need somebody with urban experience. ... It's going to be important to broaden the search so we're capturing urban centers across the country as potential places to recruit from."

Until Tuesday night, the board's leadership succession policy required the board to conduct "an internal, districtwide recruitment" for superintendent. Only if no qualified candidate was found within the school system could the board launch a "traditional" search that extended beyond Hartford.

In 2011, a previous board majority -- the creators of that succession policy -- picked Kishimoto to take over for the retiring Steven Adamowski. Kishimoto was then a Hartford assistant superintendent, a top deputy of Adamowski's, and one of two internal candidates interviewed for the job.

But in June, a new board majority that includes Poland and Mayor Pedro Segarra rejected Kishimoto's request for a contract extension after citing communication problems dating back to 2012 and frustration over the pace of education reform in Hartford, especially efforts to raise student achievement in the city's lowest-performing schools.

Among the policy revisions that the board unanimously approved Tuesday was eliminating the mandate for an internal search.

New language in the policy states that the board, acting as a committee of the whole, "may hire a search consultant with specific expertise in the recruitment of candidates with educational reform experience in an urban setting compatible with the district's policies."

During Tuesday's board meeting, Segarra said Hartford will continue to be a "reform-oriented district."

Poland said he expects the committee of the whole to meet Oct. 8 and discuss qualities it seeks in a new schools chief. Around that time, he said, the board will solicit proposals from consultants and also establish a 13-person search committee to help with recruitment.

That panel will include school board members, parents, teachers, school principals and members of the business and higher-education communities who will work with the consultant to identify up to four top candidates to recommend to the board for interviews.

The board may also seek an instructional expert from the state who "could help with vetting the competency of the candidates," Poland said.

Ultimately, he said, two or three finalists will be presented to the community in a public forum before the board votes on the next superintendent, possibly in early spring. By then, the board is expected to have a few new voices -- four seats on the nine-member board are up for citywide election in November.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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