It’s Important To Find The Right Person For The District

As most of the community is aware, last Tuesday Dr. Apthorpe announced publicly his intention to retire at the end of the current school year. For many people in the district and the community, this was not easy news to hear. From a personal standpoint, I enjoy working with Dr. Apthorpe and I have always believed that everything he does, he does with the best interest of our students and the entire district in mind. In that same spirit, I know that is why he informed Mr. Slagle and I of his plans a few weeks ago. Dr. Apthorpe was already doing what he could to put the district in the position to find the best possible candidate to replace him as soon as possible.

I have no doubt Dr. Apthorpe will proceed as he has since the day he started with us. He will continue to be a champion for our district, work with earnest effort as we approach the budget process, and carry us through to graduation day 2020, doing all he can to help every student succeed. Dr. Apthorpe has also assured me that he will be there for us in any way we need beyond June 30.

What is important now is that we move forward. In the upcoming days the board will select a search consultant to partner with to find our next superintendent. Once that selection is made, we will meet with our consultant and set a calendar and target dates for different parts of the process. We will also choose the methods by which we will conduct our search. The board will be soliciting input from the community about what kinds of traits are most important to them for the board to consider when making our selection. As is always the case, community members are welcome to come to any school board meeting and share with us their thoughts during the public sessions. Beyond meetings however we will be taking additional steps to ensure everyone has a chance to express their thoughts.

It will be my recommendation to the board that we conduct a confidential search. From my experience, and from the research I have done, confidential searches generally provide school districts with a deeper pool of candidates. It would not surprise me to get thirty or more applicants for the job. Although there is no way of knowing how many applicants we will get, the one thing we know for a fact is that we will be selecting only ONE person for this position. It is simply a fact that some excellent people won’t apply for a position if they feel it could hurt their current situation should they not be the ONE. Additionally, from a time standpoint a confidential search is a more efficient process. June 30 may seem far away but with the work that needs to be done, we do not have time to spare. We can all agree that what is most important is that we get the right person.

As representatives of the community, it is an exciting opportunity to select a superintendent, even when you are happy with the one you have. I can promise everyone, this board will do all we can to find the best person to be our next superintendent.

Paul J. Abbott is President of Jamestown Public Schools Board of Education.