The Westerly Sun

WOOD RIVER JCT. — Members of the Chariho School Committee agreed at their Feb. 11 meeting to proceed with the search for a superintendent of schools following the death of Barry Ricci in December.

Chariho solicitor Jon Anderson presented the School Committee with several search options. He said the New England School Development Council is a private, nonprofit group that helps school districts select superintendents. 

Anderson described the four tiers of service NESDEC offers.

The lowest tier, which would cost between $3,500 and $5,000, provides the district with outreach services.

“They help you put out the word that you’re looking to hire a superintendent, but all the administration, all the processing, all the time-consuming activities, they fall on the School Committee,” he explained.

The second level of service, which would cost between $6,500 and $8,500, is called the “guided search,” and would add a coach who would help the district with the process.

The third level of service, known as the “comprehensive search,” provides advertising, contacting regional organizations and other services.

“At the comprehensive search level, the consultant helps you figure out what is it that your community is looking for,” Anderson said. “People who are involved in the interview process get trained in terns of the right way to ask questions and the wrong way to ask questions.”

The comprehensive search, Anderson said, would cost between $12,000 and $20,000.

The fourth — and top — tier, a “strategic leadership search,” would cost the district between $30,000 and $40,000. Most districts, Anderson noted, choose the comprehensive search. 

An additional choice, the do-it-yourself model, would involve someone taking on the task, and another option would be to hire from within the district.

Anderson warned the committee that if a broad search was going to take place, it would have to start very soon.

“I don’t want to pressure you, but I want you to really understand that if you kick the can down the road to April or May or June, and you decide to do the external search, you’re not going to get the best candidates,” he said. “The best candidates are going to be picked in February and March.”

Hopkinton member Lisa Macaruso said she favored the comprehensive search option.

“I think that, because of the gravity of this, because of the legacy that Barry has left, because of the totality of the circumstances that we’re in and we face with what was initially a $60 million budget, that we owe it to our district and to our personnel and our staff to do a comprehensive search,” she said. 

Linda Lyall of Charlestown agreed with Macaruso.

“I think we should do the comprehensive search,” she said. “I was involved in my last district with a search committee for a superintendent and we used NESDEC and they were very good.”

Donna Chambers, also of Charlestown, suggested that the district first determine whether a suitable candidate could be found within Chariho.

Committee Chairman Ryan Callahan said he favored the comprehensive search using NESDEC.

“If the committee’s decision is to vet the greatest number of candidates as quickly as possible and then parse those down to a subset that we then choose to interview, or something like that, the fastest, most expedient way to do that would be to employ a professional agency that knows what they’re doing and put some dollars into that, and a comprehensive search would do this.”

The committee voted to authorize Anderson to enter into a contract with NESDEC to begin a comprehensive search. Callahan and Finance Director Susan Rogers will oversee the work.

cdrummond@thewesterlysun.com

@cynthiadrummon4

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