by Autumn Evans
At a special board meeting Tuesday night, the Niagara-Wheatfield Board of Education set a schedule in its search for a new superintendent to replace Lynn Marie Fusco, who recently accepted a position as superintendent of Erie-1 BOCES.
In an expedited search, the board made plans to have a replacement in place by June 3, as close to the end of the 2014-15 school year as possible.
Howard Smith of School Leadership LLC, the consultant hired by the board, led board members through a calendar to set dates for each step of the hiring process.
The schedule is as follows:
•Ongoing - There is an online survey currently available at www.surveymonkey.com/s/nw2015 where the public can provide comments on what qualities the board should look for in candidates.
•Feb. 12 - Smith and a colleague will hold two focus group meetings, one with the public and one with district employees, to determine whether any changes to the specifications should be made. The staff meeting will tentatively be held at 4 p.m. and the public meeting will tentatively be at 6 p.m.
•Feb. 20 - The final day of the online survey.
•Feb. 25 - Smith will meet with the board to discuss the findings from the focus group meetings and online survey and suggest any necessary changes.
•April 3 - Candidate application deadline.
•April 4-19 - Smith will screen job applicants and perform reference checks.
•April 29 - The board will review candidates submitted by Smith and select "semifinalists."
•May 4-15 - The board will interview the semifinalists and choose three finalists.
•May 12-25 - The board will interview the finalists a second time. By the end of the interviews, the board will chose a candidate and Smith will assist in getting their paperwork finished.
•June 3 - At this regularly scheduled board meeting, the new superintendent will be appointed, though it may be done earlier, if possible.
Also discussed at the meeting was where to advertise the position, as well as how much it would cost.
Smith provided the board with a number of suggested publications, most of which the board accepted, including the School Board Association of New York State newsletter ($650), the School Leadership recruitment letter, which is sent to every school district in the state as well as colleges, universities and professional organizations throughout the country ($1,400) and the New York State Association of School Personnel Administrators newsletter (free because Smith is a member).
However, the board made three adjustments. The first was to eliminate the American Association of School Administrators, a national publication. The board decided it was unlikely to draw in many applications and would not be worth the cost.
Another national publication called Education Week was estimated to cost about $3,500.
"Since we're doing such an expedited search, are we going to get any bang for our buck, especially with that much buck?" board member Gina Terbot asked.
It was then determined the board could purchase an online posting with the group through www.topschooljobs.org instead for a much lower cost, which it decided to do. The cost for a self-service ad was $395 while a posting done by Education Week itself would cost $495.
Lastly, though the board wished to advertise with the New York State School Board Association, due to the pace of the search, they would be unable to meet the publication deadlines. In the end, they decided to purchase an online advertisement with NYSSBA, which ended up costing $150.
The district's website, www.nwcsd.k12.ny.us, will be kept up to date with information as it changes.