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School board using community input in search for Cranbury School’s next chief administrator

Two community input forums have been completed and an online survey is underway as the search process continues by the Cranbury Township Board of Education for a new Cranbury School chief administrator.

During the week of March 26, community input forums took place on March 21 and 22. A community survey to assess the importance of various leadership qualities wanted in a new chief administrator and principal also remains open until March 25, which will then close at noon that day on the Cranbury School website.

Firm Strategic Educational Advantage (SEA) is working with the school board to complete the search for the next chief administrator and principal to replace Susan Genco, who currently holds the position and is retiring effective Sept. 1.

“We recognized early on a couple of things. We needed to move quickly, even though Susan Genco is not leaving until September. The timeline to find somebody and bring them on board and provide a smooth transition meant we needed to move fairly quickly,” said Lindsay McDowell, chair of the school board’s Personnel Committee at the community forum on March 22.

The school is also losing Assistant Principal Michele Waldron, who is also retiring come Sept. 1.

McDowell added that the strategy is to focus on the chief school administrator role first and if they can hire that person quickly the next chief school administrator would be given the ability to guide school board in terms of who the next second in command would be.

“Thus driving the need to move quickly,” he said.

The forums and survey conducted are to help the school board think about the characteristics and profile of a candidate that would best fit the Cranbury School.

“We wanted some experts that have done this before so we brought in Strategic Educational Advantage to help us with that process,” McDowell added. “The other thing we felt very strongly about is giving voice to the community and giving people a chance through the survey and forums like this to help guide us and think about the profile of the candidate we are trying to find.”

Michael Kuchar of Strategic Educational Advantage said they ask several general questions when seeking input.

Those questions are: What do you believe are the strengths of the Cranbury School and community? What are the challenges that you see (weaknesses and areas of growth) for the Cranbury School and challenges for the next superintendent? What are the specific characteristics would you like to see in the next superintendent?

“I think one of the greatest things about the Cranbury School District for me and my three children is that there is something for every child and every child’s interest. The school does a great job of programming for different students,” resident Cassie Shea said. “I would like to see that continue. The challenge I see when you are in a K-8 district and what worries me is the collaboration. I would be curious to know how the new chief school administrator would collaborate and get ideas.”

Cranbury resident Penny Ftikas said that whoever comes in as the new chief school administrator has to appreciate the overall experience of a Cranbury family who comes to stay and makes permanent connections in the community.

“… While also understanding that the student body is changing and that the needs of the community are changing. Those changes and evolution have to be thoughtful and really insightful,” she said. “Constantly having enough foresight to see what will protect that sense of community that can get in the way sometimes, it is important the next person is ready to roll up their sleeves and do this well.”

Strategic Educational Advantage will build the profile and actively recruit people for the profile and actively screen all applicants for the position.

Each candidate will be scored on how they relate to the profile, if they meet and exceed the characteristics, if they have great upside potential, or if they do not meet the qualifications.

“We expect a minimum of 40 people in a search from there we bring all 40 before the board. It is up to the school board on how many candidates they would like to interview,” Kuchar said. “Understand that the search has to be completely confidential. People will not apply or will pull their names if they are public.”

To fill out the survey and for the latest message update, visit www.cranburyschool.org.

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