By Colin Hogan
Fulton City School District officials are looking for community input as they move forward with the search to replace Superintendent Bill Lynch, who will retire at the end of the 2015-16 school year.
Late last week, board members selected a consultant to help guide the district though the process, and put together a survey they hope district residents will utilize to offer input for the search.
The survey is currently posted on the district’s website, where it will remain available until Sept. 23. For those without internet access, the board will provide hard copies of the survey at each school building’s open house this fall. Cordone said at least one board member will be present at each open house to hear input and help residents fill out the survey.
“We’re encouraging people to use the online survey, but we do want to include everyone’s input and we know there are some people in the district who might not be able to access the website,” Cordone said. “We felt it was important that we have something for those who don’t have internet access, so those people can attend any open house and we will have a board member present with a paper copy.”
The board has selected Dr. Vincent J. Coppola of the Western New York Educational Service Council to help with the search and hiring process. A former superintendent in the Corning City School District, Coppola is the lead consultant for the council, which has completed approximately 400 searches for school superintendents since 1966. He has also taught graduate courses in school administration at two Buffalo-area colleges and is a frequent speaker at state and national education conferences, according to biographical information provided to the board.
Locally, Coppola recently assisted with the hiring of Mexico Central School District’s new superintendent.
“We looked into several candidates and (Dr. Coppola’s) profile shows he’s worked with a number of school districts with a proven track record, and he’s not foreign to this area, having recently worked in the Mexico school district,” Cordone said.
Coppola will be working with a partner, as well, Robert Christmann, who, in addition to assisting in numerous superintendent searches, has taught administrators in the statewide Superintendents Development Program and is the current president of the National School Development Council.
Cordone said Coppola and the board have planned out a timeline that should result in a new superintendent being named by the first week of 2016.
On Sept. 17, the consultants and board members will meet with several 10- to 12-person subgroups that will provide input for the search, including but not limited to a parent group, community leaders, the teachers’ association, the administrators’ association, office staff and student groups. Later in the process, each of those groups will provide two representatives to sit on an interview team that will get to meet with candidates and provide the school board with an advisory opinion, Cordone said.
The information collected through the survey and meetings with subgroups helps build the profile the board will use to advertise the position to potential candidates, Cordone said. Once the board has gathered all the information it needs for that profile, it will be publicized through multiple school-oriented job recruitment outlets. The district will also be sending a notice of vacancy to other school districts throughout the state, Cordone said.
“All of that work will be done up front in September and will be sent out at the beginning of October,” Cordone said. “Then from Oct. 1 through Nov. 1, candidates will be able to apply for the position.”
The board will then vet the candidates in November. In early December, the team comprised of community and district stakeholders will conduct interviews of approximately six semi-finalists and give an advisory opinion to the school board, which will then conduct the final interviews and make its selection.
“Ultimately we hope to announce our selected candidate the first week of January,” Cordone said.
The survey can be found by visiting www.fulton.cnyric.org. Those without internet access may call their nearest school to find out when it will be holding its open house, at which they can fill out a hard copy of the survey.