The Liverpool Central School District has officially begun its effort to find a new superintendent. The district has formed nine stakeholder groups and held a community meeting to determine the qualifications the new super must possess, as well as the challenges he or she will face in the next three to five years.
The new superintendent will replace Dr. Richard N. Johns, who will retire July 31. Johns came to Liverpool in 2009.
About 10 students and five adults attended a community meeting hosted by Dr. Lucy Martin of Castallo and Silky Education Consultants on Wednesday, Feb. 27, the day after Martin met with members of the stakeholder groups. At both meetings, participants described what they felt the district’s strengths were — these included items like its teaching staff, its fine arts program, its full-day kindergarten program and its universal busing, among other things — as well as the challenges it faces, such as finances and budgetary concerns, a lack of communication between the administration and the staff, APPR and other state mandates and the community’s perception of the district. The groups also came up with lists of qualifications the new superintendent must possess in order to maintain the strengths and address the challenges.
Martin said community participation is key to a successful search, and the Liverpool community has willingly stepped up to the task.
“With the online survey [which closed Feb. 26], more than 500 people responded,” Martin said. “That’s unbelievable. That’s an amazing response.”
Martin said the stakeholder committees filled up quickly, another indicator that the community is eager to participate in the process.
“We asked for participation, but you figure not everyone will want to participate,” Martin said. “But everybody has come out. We’ve got more than 100 people on the committees. It’s a good cross-section of people, and they’re very interested, very involved.”
The district has created nine stakeholder groups, each of which will ultimately interview and evaluate the candidates and help the board choose a finalist. The groups are made up of members of the following groups:
Administrators and managers
Those groups will play a role in interviewing candidates for Liverpool’s top job. Applications are due March 29. From there, Castallo and Silky will narrow the pool to six to eight, whom they will recommend to the board. The board and the constituent groups will interview the candidates and determine how they fit into the criteria developed Feb. 26 and 27.
Future meetings regarding the superintendent search will not be held in public session, as they will deal with specific individuals and their employment.
“The board can talk generally about how the search is going, but everything else has to be in closed session,” she said.
After extensive interviews and vetting by both the board and the consultants, the board will choose a finalist between May 6 and May 13. That finalist will be announced on or before June 1. The new superintendent should start on Aug. 1.
Martin said the district has a couple of options if the initial search doesn’t turn up a worthy candidate.
“One choice is to appoint an interim for a year and start over,” she said. “And there have been times when we’ve started all over again. The thing with that, none of the people who applied the first time will apply again, so that really shrinks your candidate pool.”
Martin said the board of education is reluctant to go with an interim superintendent because it would bring “too many changes” to the district in a short period of time.
“Stability is what is a priority at this point,” she said.
But she was confident that the district would be able to find a new leader the first time around.
“We’re hoping that this search will be a successful one,” Martin said. “It’s a great district. People that have been here recognize the strength of the community, the staff, the students. People who come here come to stay.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club’s Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.