Shoreham-Wading River will hire firm to conduct superintendent search

The Shoreham-Wading River Board of Education voted unanimously at Tuesday’s meeting to use a private recruiting firm to search for a new superintendent to replace Harriet Copel, who will leave the district when her contract expires in June.

Board vice president Marie Lindell and trustee Rich Pluschau presented their research of superintendent search processes.

Ms. Lindell said she reached out to administrators and board members in nearby districts where superintendent searches have recently been conducted, and Mr. Pluschau found 10 recruiting firms that specialize in superintendent searches in the state, some of which have had recent success.

“Given our time constraints, I think an external consultant is the best way to go,” he said at the meeting.

Ms. Lindell echoed Mr. Pluschau’s recommendation. “I think they have a much better ability to search than we as seven board members have,” she said.

Hank Gmitro, president of the recruiting firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, said the cost of superintendent searches varies based on the district’s size, but that costs for Long Island districts, which are typically on the small side, usually run from $17,000 to $22,000.

The board will hold a special public meeting Jan. 11 where recruiting firms will vie for the district’s search contract.

Ms. Lindell suggested looking for a national firm that has a “broader perspective and greater access to candidates.” She emphasized the importance of members of the community being included in the search process.

“[Recruiting firms] work with all the different groups to make sure everyone is represented, which I think is very important,” she said, noting that the firm will work with the teachers union, administrators, community members, the PTA and booster club.

After a recruiting firm is selected, it will conduct interviews with school staff and administrators, the school board and community members to discuss the qualities needed in an ideal candidate, board members said.

The firm will then establish selection criteria, begin recruiting applicants, process applications, conduct reference checks and then choose candidates to interview. When candidates are narrowed down to finalists, board members will interview each of them until the best candidate is chosen, board members said.

Mr. Pluschau said the board should aim to have a new superintendent by mid-April.

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