Attendance was reportedly low at two Wilton Board of Education forums set up to get public input on the search for a new school superintendent–less than a dozen people were said to have shown up at each of the two meetings scheduled early this week by the search firm hired by the board to hear from parents and the public on the topic.
But according to Bruce Likly, chair of the BoE, that doesn’t mean they haven’t been hearing from parents. He says feedback from a survey they created to get parent input has been going well. The official report about what people have told Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates–the consulting firm hired to recruitment the next superintendent–won’t be delivered to the board until their next meeting on Nov. 12. But Likly said, “The anecdotal information we’re getting is still positive and there’s a lot of good information.”
The board, along with their consultants, tried to set up multiple opportunities for public participation in the process. “We wanted folks to know that we’re specifically trying to meet the objectives of their cohort. We held a session at the senior center for seniors. We held the one at Trackside during the day and the one Tuesday night kind of as a catch-all for the community. We’re also holding two for members of the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance and a couple others for other town leaders. Of course we have the survey also.”
Likly seemed disappointed at the number of parents who actually came out to attend the meetings.
“I got the impression [from Hazard, Young] that turnout is about what they’d expect, which is interesting. There were more people at the meeting for the Middlebrook turf field lighting than there was for the superintendent community search. Which it doesn’t surprise me, but I’m hopeful that there will be quite a few people who filled out the survey and just felt they didn’t need to go in person. In our case, a voice at a meeting is of equal weight to the voice of the survey.”
People still have the opportunity to complete the survey, and are being highly encouraged to do so. To access the online survey, click any word ‘survey‘ in this article, or visit the school district website. The deadline for completing it is Nov. 1, which is the end of the public feedback period.
Once Hazard, Young reports back, the BoE will be able to solidify what they’re looking for in potential replacements for current superintendent Dr. Gary Richards, and it will hopefully allow the search committee to sharply identify and refine the list of candidates to meet. “We have a pretty solid, general idea of what we’re looking for. We’re doing this fact-finding mission with the town to help us prioritize and perhaps uncover criteria that we haven’t already thought of. But with the criteria we know we’re looking for, being a high-performing school district, they have already started to put feelers out there. So we’ll use criteria that the town has come up with to start putting together the interview questions and narrow the search list from 30 or 40 to some more manageable number, that we’ll then interview,” Likly explained.
The hope is that things move rapidly after that, considering that Richards’ last day is scheduled to be Dec. 31–although he has offered to stay as long as is necessary. Likly said they hope to have interviews completed by the end of the calendar year. “Odds are likely that we’ll have some sort of transition period after Dec. 31.”