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June 02. 2013 10:02PM

Manchester superintendent search down to five semi-finalists

MANCHESTER — A new superintendent for city schools could be selected by the end of the week, the chairman of the superintendent search committee said Sunday.

On Friday, the committee conducting the search for the new leader of the Manchester School District picked five semi-finalists for the post.

Those five will come to Manchester this week for a round of interviews with the full Board of School Committee on Wednesday.

The field will then be narrowed to three finalists who will spend two days in the city touring schools, speaking with community groups and educators and meeting the public in a forum Friday evening, search panel chairman Ted Rokas said.

The school board could elect the district's new superintendent in a special meeting on Saturday.

"ProAct, our search consultant, gave us a list of 12 people and then when we met on Friday we narrowed it to five," Rokas said.

The search panel will not release the names of the candidates until the list has been pared to the three finalists.

The district is currently involved in its second search for a successor to Thomas Brennan, whose resignation is effective on July 1.

In the first search, the three finalists came from districts significantly smaller than Manchester. One withdrew during his interview and the two others failed to muster votes of enough school board members to win the job.

After deciding to start again, the school board boosted the pay from the $160,000 range in the original search to as much as $190,000. The board also added a preference for candidates from districts with at least 5,000 pupils to the job description.

Brennan's salary is $165,500

"As chairman of the committee, I think the list of candidates is better than the first list we received," Rokas said. "Some are superintendents of larger districts, it's a little bit of a mix."

The search committee has decided to rely on in-person interviews in cutting the field to three, rather than use Skype video conferences.

The five semi-finalists will meet with the full school board in separate interviews Wednesday. The board is expected to pick three candidates for more intensive evaluation, Rokas said.

Names of the candidates for the job won't be released until the field is narrowed to three. Rokas said none of the five on the short list were applicants in the first round.

Finalists will be asked to remain in Manchester through the end of the week to meet with various stakeholders in the Manchester schools.

"The community has to be involved," said Rokas. "It's not just my superintendent or the board's superintendent, it's the community's superintendent."

A community forum with the finalists will be held on Friday evening at Manchester Memorial High School; the time for the event is expected to be announced today.

The full school board will meet Saturday for final interviews. If the Board of School Committee decides to offer the job to one of the three, negotiations on a contract could begin following the board's vote, Rokas said.

bsmith@newstote.com


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