Superintendent search committee prepares to interview semi-finalists

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The search for a new superintendent of schools has entered the next phase, as the school board’s superintendent search committee prepares to interview semi-finalists for the top administrative post.

School board member Betsy Baglio said consultant School Exec Connect provided the committee with a list of seven semi-finalists. The committee will meet with the semi-finalists during December.

Once the search committee winnows down the list to the top three contenders, it will hold a second set of interviews and listen to the candidates’ presentations. The goal is to have a new superintendent of schools in place by July 1, 2021.

“We are very pleased we are at that stage. We have many, many hours of interviews scheduled in December,” Baglio told the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education at its Nov. 17 meeting.

School Exec Connect was awarded a $32,900 contract to find a replacement for former Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane, who retired June 30. The search firm is based in Oak Park, Illinois.

The school board hired Barry Galasso, a retired superintendent of schools and an adjunct professor at Gwynedd Mercy University in Pennsylvania, to serve as the interim superintendent. He is being paid $220,000 for a one-year contract that started July 1 and will end June 30, 2021.

An online survey was launched soon after school began in September to determine the qualities and characteristics that a new superintendent of schools should possess. Focus groups and informal forums also were held with the same goal in mind.

The survey, focus groups and informal forums also sought to develop a sense of the school district’s strengths and the areas that need improvement, in addition to finding out what the community wants in a new school leader.

The online survey drew responses from 269 people, while the focus groups and informal forums dew more than 100 participants that included parents, students, staff and community members.

Kevin O’Mara of School Exec Connect said he also received about two dozen emails from people who may not have felt comfortable expressing their views in a group setting. He said he also spoke to about two dozen people who called to offer input.

The result of the combined survey, focus groups, informal forums and one-on-one contact with O’Mara of School Exec Connect is a “New Superintendent Profile.”

Among the traits being sought in the new superintendent are someone who is highly visible and personable; a visionary leader who inspires others and who is a team-builder; and someone who is an outstanding communicator who is aware of the need for community involvement.