2017-10-20 / Front Page

Board reignites search for superintendent

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

CAPE ELIZABETH – School board members are hoping for better luck searching for a new permanent superintendent this go-around. In 2016, former superintendent Meredith Nadeau, who was with the district for five years, accepted a position as superintendent in New Market, New Hampshire. The board interviewed two finalists for the position – Steven Bailey and Dr. Craig King – but both ultimately withdrew their names, so Howard Colter, previously head of the Mount Desert Regional School System, was hired as interim superintendent for the 2016-2017 school year. The board reopened up the search for Nadeau’s replacement in late 2016, but the effort failed to attract the right candidate so in late March 2017, the board reached an agreement with Colter for him to stay on for the 2017-2018 school year as well.

According to a March 2017 school department newsletter, after going through the search process and considering all the options, “the School Board unanimously agreed that the best choice at this point is no choice. We believe we should not settle for anything less than the right match, and will continue our pursuit of excellence on behalf of our students and staff.”

The search effort, part two, is now underway.

“I am excited to say we are launching our 2017 superintendent search. We began advertising a week ago using online media, as well as print media,” School Board Chairman Elizabeth Scifres said at the board’s Oct. 10 meeting. “Also what I have found to be helpful is word of mouth. Word of mouth talk about Cape Elizabeth has been incredibly positive.”

School board member John Voltz said “there is a lot” for potential superintendent candidates to like about Cape Elizabeth, which he said is a high achieving school district with great community support and port and a zero percent drop out rate.

The work of the superintendent search committee, which will be made up of board members, teachers, school and central office staff and members of the public, will begin soon. Scifres said she is hoping for a good cross section of the community with ties to all grade levels and is still looking for individuals for the committee.

“We are trying to cast a wide net and have a broad representation,” Scifres said.

The committee, once formed, will be tasked with reading applications, ranking them and recommending and conducting first and second round interviews. The first round of interviews are set to take place the week of Nov. 13. Second round interviews begin Tuesday, Nov. 21. A visit to the finalists’ home district will take place Monday, Nov. 27 and Tuesday, Nov. 28 with finalists visiting Cape Elizabeth Thursday, Nov. 30. Small subgroups of the school board will have dinner with the finalists Monday, Dec. 4. If that schedule holds up, the board is slated to approve the hire of the new superintendent at a special business meeting Thursday, Dec. 7.

According the superintendent search page, “strong consideration will be given to candidates who share and can build upon our vision of exceptional, innovative education and are able to continue to move our district toward its goals.” Applications will be accepted through Monday, Nov. 6.

Scifres said the “board is moving aggressively” toward finding a new superintendent.

“We will begin interviewing in mid-November and hope to have that ‘good match’ candidate before winter break in December,” she said. “I encourage the public to be paying attention of opportunities to come in and meet finalists.”

Since Colter has signed on through the end of the school year, the new superintendent would join the district July 1, 2018.

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