May 16 — 11:19 am, 2012

Search committee starts review of superintendent candidates

With the District’s temporary leadership planning a radical reorganization and its financial stability a question mark, the School Reform Commission is quietly sifting through the credentials of 87 candidates for superintendent.

Some applied and others were submitted as nominations. A 14-member search committee led by SRC member Wendell Pritchett is reviewing the candidates.

Pritchett said the SRC intends to name a new leader by July, in time to be on the job for the new school year.

Even so, he said, "We are not going to settle and are going to wait until we find the right candidate."

Speculation is that Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen could stay on in a more permanent role to ensure continuity. The SRC appointed Knudsen in January on a six-month contract.

No names of candidates have yet been brought to the public’s attention.

The District held 10 community meetings in February and then released a formal job description for the "superintendent/CEO" position that officials say incorporated community feedback. But a general lack of information has frustrated some advocates.

"I think there’s been very poor communication," said Parents United for Public Education founder Helen Gym (also a Notebook board member).

With the SRC now considering a sweeping reorganization, Gym wondered about the new superintendent’s role in shaping the agenda. She questioned whether the new hire will "simply execute a stock plan laid out by consultants and non-educators" or will be expected to offer his or her own ideas.

As for public input, Pritchett said there are plans for more. "There will be a public aspect to the search before a final choice is announced," he said, "but we are still thinking through how that will be organized."

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