standing Stonington High School

STONINGTON — A subcommittee of the Board of Education will continue to seek information from three prospective national search firms expected to meet with members in the coming weeks as the board moves forward in hiring a successor for Van Riley as superintendent of Stonington Public Schools.

The process, which will seek to find the district’s next top administrator in the coming months, will utilize the search firms in order to remain fully transparent and help prioritize community input as a part of the hiring process, said Board of Education Chairman Farouk Rajab.

“In order to keep the process as transparent as possible and the community involved, the best way is to move forward with one of these firms and to keep everything moving on as anticipated a schedule as possible,” Rajab said. “I want to keep the community involved, and I want to give the subcommittee options.”

The direction came after members of the Board of Education expressed a desire to conduct a full, national search process. Newly-elected member Daniel Kelley questioned whether the previous board had done anything to consider in-house options, noting it would be cheaper and more time efficient to appoint a candidate from in-house, if there is a viable option, but did not find support from other members who instead chose to “stay on this path.”

In preparing to move forward in the search process, Craig Esposito reached out to several search firms as the subcommittee chairman and received responses from three interested organizations. Among those who expressed interest and provided resume information were Cooperative Educational Services, or CES; the New England School Development Council, or NESDEC; and CABE Executive Search Services.

Each of the companies offered a comprehensive search process that would involve narrowing down applicants to the 15 most qualified and best suited candidates, which would then be brought back before the subcommittee. The process would call for the subcommittee to then narrow the list down to three finalists, who go before a final interview in front of the Board of Education for members to select the next superintendent.

Throughout the process, all three organizations promised heavy public involvement including conducting school-based and general community surveys, holding focus groups with students, teachers, parents and other specific stakeholder groups, hosting community conversations to hear from the public and other steps to assure that public input is incorporated, Esposito said.

Cost estimates included separate $10,000 and $17,000 packages for CES, a $10,000 estimate for NESDEC, and a $17,000 estimate for CABE.

On Thursday, members said they still had several questions including wanting more specific information on avenues used to advertise job openings and recruit candidates, guarantees regarding candidate background checks and credential verification and more.

Rajab indicated that the board would continue to monitor efforts by the subcommittee, and would meet at least once every two weeks including by special meeting if necessary to get the ball rolling.

“There are a lot of questions right now, I would love to get some of these answers and sit down and talk with each of them individually to figure out why they’d be the right fit,” Esposito said.

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