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December 26. 2012 12:05AM

Search for city school chief begins in earnest next month

MANCHESTER - The search is on for the next superintendent for Manchester city schools.

The city has hired the Chicago-based firm Proact to handle the initial search and provide the school board search committee with a list of about 12 candidates.

The five-member committee will narrow that list to three or four finalists, who will be interviewed and considered by the entire Board of School Committee.

Ted Rokas, chairman of the school board search committee, said the application period will begin in early January and run through Feb. 22. Proact expects to get about 150 applications and will provide a list of semifinalists to the Manchester board, which will take it from there.

"We've seen good. We've seen bad. We know the difference," Proact's Kelly Barton said last week during a public forum at Memorial High School. "Some people just have that gift. We're looking for that person with that gift to deliver them to you."

Proact members spent the week in Manchester, gathering feedback of what Manchester was looking for in a replacement for Tom Brennan, who is stepping down at the end of the school year.

Proact handled the search for a superintendent in Portland, Maine, and impressed Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, who went to local businesses and generated $25,000 in donations to hire a professional search firm. Proact won the bid and contract of $20,500, plus expenses.

"I think we all felt that we wanted to get somebody that would have a nationwide approach," Rokas said. "So far, Proact has been on top of its game and very good to work with."

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Doug Alden may be reached at dalden@unionleader.com.


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