Weigh in on Superintendent’s Search – Survey and Focus Group invite

by beth on November 6, 2018

Post image for Weigh in on Superintendent’s Search – Survey and Focus Group invite

As I previously posted, the districts’ school committees will seek public input prior to running a Superintendent search. Opportunities for you to weigh in were announced today.

An announcement from Chairs of the Southborough, Northborough, and Regional school committees asks the public to complete a survey by November 19th. (click here) It also invites you to take part in a focus group as soon as next week.

A timeline for the process already indicates an internally focused search.

Focus groups for different constituents will be held through November 28th. Two days later (Friday, November 28th), the Massachusetts Association of School Committees will provide analysis of surveys and Focus Groups. That Monday, the job will be posted internally.

Candidates will be interviewed on December 20th. No mention is made of the potential for opening the search up beyond internal candidates based on community feedback. The letter explains:

When a strong internal candidate exists, as is the case in Northborough-Southborough, MASC recommends first conducting an internal search, because such candidates serve to discourage outside applicants.

Focus groups for parents and community members of either town are:

  • Thursday, November 15, 6:30 – 8:30 pm at Trottier Middle School, 49 Parkerville Rd
  • Tuesday, November 20, 9:30 – 11 am at Northborough Library, 34 Main St, Northborough

The full announcement is below: 

To Residents of Northborough and Southborough,

As you may be aware, Superintendent Christine Johnson has announced her retirement effective June 30, 2019, at the end of the current school year. At their meeting on Sept. 26, 2018, the Combined School Committees of Northborough and Southborough regretfully accepted her resignation and wished her the best in her well-deserved retirement.

The Committees have since enlisted the services of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) to aid in the search for a new superintendent. When a strong internal candidate exists, as is the case in Northborough-Southborough, MASC recommends first conducting an internal search, because such candidates serve to discourage outside applicants. The process begins with a survey of the community to learn what attributes they desire in a new superintendent as well as focus groups with various stakeholders. Both the survey and the focus groups are being run and administered by MASC. The intent is to give all community members, school administration, teachers and staff multiple opportunities to weigh in. We hope you’ll take advantage of one or more opportunities. Below is a link to the online survey. It will be available for input until midnight on Monday, Nov. 19. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey, as your input is valuable to the committees.

Attached is a schedule for the various focus groups (as well as other milestones in the process). Parents and community members have two opportunities to participate:

  • Thurs., Nov. 15, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Trottier Middle School, 49 Parkerville Rd.,
  • Tues., Nov. 20, 9:30 – 11 a.m., at Northborough Library, 34 Main St., Northborough

Please note residents of either town are welcome to attend either community session. The intent is to offer a morning and evening time to accommodate as many schedules as possible.

We look forward to your input in this important process.


Paul Desmond, Chair, Southborough School Committee and Superintendency Union #3
Susan Lawrence, Chair, Northborough School Committee
Lynne Winter, Chair, Northborough-Southborough Regional School Committee

For the timeline, click here and scroll to page 2.

1 Resident November 7, 2018 at 12:32 PM

It makes no sense at all that you would not go out and try to get the very best candidate. If the internal candidate really is the best, he will come to the top. If not, we get the best person for the job. Open up the search and see what is out there. Not sure what they are afraid of. You can still hire the internal person but at least do the students and families of Northboro and Southboro the courtesy of seeing what is out there and what may be the best possible person for this job. School committee needs to step up and look everywhere possible for the best person for this very important job.

2 Kerry November 7, 2018 at 9:54 PM

Ugh.. I’m glad there is someone who feels the way I do. I completely agree with everything you said. THANK YOU! I will be at the focus group.

3 Resident November 8, 2018 at 9:19 AM

I am glad you agree with me. I am sick and tired of the old boy network attitude of the school committee and them not putting in the effort. The best candidate may be the one that gets away. Open it up and let’s see what happens. I am not sure what they are really afraid of.

4 beth November 8, 2018 at 10:40 AM

In the committees’ defense, the advice from consultants the interviewed was that you conduct an internal only search first if you have a strong internal candidate. The concept is that supposedly you won’t attract quality candidates if they think you are only willing to hire internally. That is supposedly because they worry about issues with their current jobs if they think you aren’t serious.

However, it’s worth noting that the strong internal candidate, the Assistant Superintendent, applied last year for the Superintendent position in Hopkinton where he was previously a principal. He lost out to their Assistant Super.

So, if he is really a great candidate – then the logic that you won’t attract strong external candidates if you search both internally and externally simultaneously seems flawed.

The only way that I can see that the logic makes sense is if you plan to do an internal search with the possibility of vetting out internal candidates. Perhaps if the committees deemed there was no one internally that they want to hire, they would subsequently net higher level candidates they otherwise wouldn’t have.

But I don’t understand the downside of opening it to additional external competition if they do find a good internal candidate. And the timeline shared doesn’t seem to indicate that is the plan. (Consultants used the word “first”. I don’t recall an explanation from either why it would be “only”.)

Previous post:

Next post: