Bristol, Connecticut, U.S.A. — Community leaders are tackling the task of finding someone to replace Edward Maher when he retires this summer as school superintendent.
The city will need a new superintendent for the next school year and hopes to find someone who will serve for years to come.
The superintendent oversees 10 elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools and a budget pushing $60 million annually.
Maher’s successor faces a massive renovation project at the high schools, the need to update antiquated computers and implementing experimental block scheduling reforms.
Already, a search committee is advertising for applicants, according to committee chairperson and school board vice-chairperson Beverly
Bobroske said the search panel is combing the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast for suitable candidates. A consultant has been hired to screen applications.
“We owe it to the taxpayers,” Bobroske said, “to get the best possible person we can.”
This will be the first time that an elected, rather than an appointed, school board will select a superintendent.
According to postings, only applicants with a doctorate in education will be considered.
Despite the wide range of the search, Bobroske said, there are many “good-quality people in Bristol” who could do the job.
The only person in town to announce her intention to seek the job is Assistant Superintendent Ann Clark.
“I’m going to give it my best shot,” said Clark.
Bobroske said the most important qualities she is looking for are an understanding of the curriculum and a good personality. Knowledge of
modern technology, she added, is a definite plus.
Search committee member and city Finance Chairman John Letizia cited experience and aptitude in finance as tops on his list.
Clark said that if she is hired, she would try to bring more technology into the schools. But, she added, “There are a lot of things that I want to keep.”
Maher, slated to retire June 30, declined comment, saying that he was not directly involved in the selection process. Maher accused a reporter of not grasping the gravity of the subject at hand.
Maher earns about $112,000-a-year as superintendent, though a successor would likely earn less at first.
Neither Maher, the education department nor the city’s personnel office would provide a copy of his contract – a public document which would likely include other perks of the job as well as detailing the superintendent’s duties.
None of the persons interviewed had heard of any other locals planning to apply for the position.
“If you apply and you don’t get it, it’s pretty apparent,” said Clark.
The search committee will be looking for public input when the selection process begins.
“We want a lot of community involvement in this process,” said Bobroske.
The consultant, she said, will meet with each school board member, local business leaders, the city government, community organizations,students, and teachers, and will be made available for everyone.
Hopefully, Letizia said, the new superintendent will remain in Bristol for a long time.
If this proves true, he added, the selection will be even more important.
“It’s going to be one of the major decisions to be made in Bristol for several years,” he said.
Brian LaRue is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.