Eight candidates have been shortlisted for the first round of interviews with the Carlisle Area School District Superintendent, school board president Paula Bussard said Wednesday.
The first round will take place on Zoom over the next week and will involve the full board, as well as members of staff from the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU), she added.
In December, the board hired the CCIU to coordinate the search for a permanent replacement for Christina Spielbauer, who resigned as superintendent on December 31.
The job advertisement was posted on websites serving professional organizations such as the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators. In addition, CCIU sent an invitation to apply to people on its director contact list primarily in Pennsylvania, but also in Delaware and New Jersey.
Eleven people submitted applications by the Feb. 25 deadline — eight of whom were selected following a selection process conducted by the school board in conjunction with CCIU staff, Bussard said. “We were very happy. It was a pool of very qualified candidates.
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She added that all but one of the original 11 contestants were from Pennsylvania. This individual came from a neighboring state. The pool consists of a mix of superintendents and assistant superintendents, as well as other high-level central office administrators.
Finalists selected in the first round will move on to a second round of interviews in late March-early April. The second round will be conducted in person – again by the entire school board working alongside CCIU staff.
The goal since the beginning of the search is to have a new superintendent hired and in place by July 1 – the first day of the 2022-2023 fiscal year. “It’s our schedule,” Bussard said. “We are optimistic about its achievement.”
She added that the search was launched early enough that the successful candidate would have ample opportunity to give their current employer sufficient notice.
As part of the selection process, the board considered feedback from about 100 stakeholders who participated in focus groups held in February, Bussard said. These stakeholders included parents, teachers, administrators, students, business and community leaders, and members of the community at large.
Focus group participants were asked to identify the qualities needed in a superior leader, the strengths and skills the next superintendent must demonstrate, and the key issues facing the district over the next five years. Feedback from the focus groups was used to develop a candidate profile and interview questions centered on district needs and challenges.
The board also considered feedback drawn from about 300 responses to an online survey also conducted in February, Bussard said. This survey asked respondents to rank the qualifications and skills of an effective superintendent, identify the qualities of a senior school leader, and list the challenges, concerns, and issues facing the school district in short term.
“It was very insightful,” Bussard said. “It has been very helpful for the board to understand what concerns students, parents, teachers, other staff and community leaders. We’ll share the results in summary form once we’ve gone through the interview process.
The board wants to keep the findings confidential in order to assess each nominee’s vision, Bussard said. “We want people to do their own independent research and contribute their thoughts on what they think our district’s aspirations should be.”
In December, the board hired veteran educator Patricia Sanker to serve as acting superintendent in a hire-and-appointe Spielbauer replacement.
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