Following New Haven Public Schools Superintendent Reginald Mayo’s announcement last week that he will retire at the end of the school year, the city’s Board of Education moved forward Monday with plans to replace the long-serving public school administrator.
The Board of Education voted to make itself the search and screen committee for a new superintendent and also appointed board members Michael Nast and Alex Johnston to a committee that will help select a consulting firm to assist in the selection process. While the specific consulting firm most likely will not be selected by the next board meeting on March 11, several board members expressed the need for a speedy search process. Both School Board President Carlos Antonio Torre and New Haven Federation of Teachers President David Cicarella said they want a permanent superintendent appointed before Mayo leaves this summer rather than an interim administrator.
“We need to keep the momentum of school change going,” Cicarella said, “And the new superintendent, whoever he may be, needs to keep that momentum going.”
Board members did not disclose specific details about what they are looking for in a new superintendent, only noting that the appointment will entail a nationwide search process. Assistant Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries ’95, a possible front-runner for the post, would not confirm intentions to apply for the job. Harris only noted that he plans to stay in New Haven and that he is committed to school change.
School board officials at the Monday meeting agreed that the next step in the process is to hire a consultant who can help guide the board through a search process. Board members will create an application for the superintendent post in the coming weeks.
“We’d be spinning our wheels if we ran ahead and started doing the work [without a consulting firm],” Torre said.
Board members also stressed that in order to maintain the current progress of the School Change Initiative in New Haven, it is imperative that the search process finishes before Mayo steps down this June. However, the board stopped short of outlining specific dates for each step in the search.
Johnston added that it is important to move quickly at the beginning of the search process and thus allow time for community involvement in the coming months. Torre said that the Board of Education plans to have focus groups in which teachers, community members and parents can voice qualities and characteristics they believe are important for a new superintendent.
Will Clark, chief operating officer of the Board of Education, said the consulting firm selected will need to charge a fee of $100,000 or less to be an affordable partner for the city.