2014-03-28 / Front Page

Sparse turnouts for search forums

RSU 21 superintendent search gets underway; next input opportunity is Saturday at Kennebunk High School
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT —The room of seven tables was relatively vacant on Monday night at Consolidated School for the second of three superintendent search public forums, as only two residents attended. No one attended the first forum, held at Mildred L. Day School on Tuesday, March 18.

School board Chairman Kevin Knight told the residents present he thinks the lack of attendance may not necessarily be a bad thing.

“I don’t think I would take it that people don’t care, but people felt pretty good about (our choice of) Andrew.”

The purpose of the forums is to give residents an informal avenue to voice questions, suggestions and concerns about the superintendent who will succeed Andrew Dolloff on July 1.

Maureen King, school board member, told residents that what the board is looking for is feedback:

“What they think (a superintendent) should be doing and what (a superintendent) should do.”

Lou Miller, a Kennebunkport resident, referring to the 14 qualities given as options in the online survey on the district’s website, said the most important attributes of a new superintendent are ethics, leadership and curriculum.

Miller believes ethics matter most in the position, “because if you’re not ethical, if you don’t choose truth over harmony, you’re looking for mediocrity.”

Julie Urban, a Kennebunk resident and teacher at Consolidated School, referenced Dolloff’s communication skills as being desirable in the next superintendent. “His communication has been excellent, in my opinion, whether it be an outbreak of the whooping cough at one of the schools or drug sniffing dogs.”

Urban said she liked receiving personal emails informing her of issues in the district, rather than waiting to hear via town fodder or in the news.

“Somebody who is on top of it, connecting with parents. That’s just something that stands out right away,” Urban said.

Also neccessary, Urban said, is “someone who has had experience with huge renovation projects that’s going to bring the community together. That seems to be something at the forefront of where our district needs to go.”

The superintendent position was officially opened to applicants last week.

Knight reported that there have been approximately five applications received as of March 24. The position will remain open for about a month, but an extension is also an option.

King assured both listeners that hiring an interim is not out of the question, if needed, and the process is obviously not something to be done hastily.

“If we can’t find the right fit in the first round we will look into hiring an interim,” King said.

“That makes me feel a lot better,” Urban said.

This is the third superintendent hiring process that King has been a part of. In her experience, a shortage of qualified applicants has not been an issue.

When Dolloff was selected in 2009, the then-newly formed RSU 21 received 18 applications, while other districts throughout the state received only eight or nine, King said.

Urban said the location, alone, is desirable.

“We are seen as being a great district. We’re ahead of the curve in curriculum and our students and teachers make great impressions on people when they travel out of town for events,” King said. “All of those things we have going for us.”

The next public forum will be at 10 a.m. at Kennebunk High School Saturday, March 29. For more information on the superintendent survey, visit www.rsu21.net.

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