Northampton to again use New England School Development Council in superintendent search
NORTHAMPTON — In searching for a new leader for city schools, the School Committee plans to use the same firm it used in 2011 in hiring Superintendent Brian Salzer, who is leaving in July after less than two years at the helm.
At its meeting Thursday, the board voted unanimously to work with the nonprofit New England School Development Council (NESDEC) in Marlborough, which coordinated a $25,000 national search that led to Salzer’s hire, to oversee the new search.
As part of its 2011 contract, NESDEC will conduct the new search at no cost, save advertising, because the superintendent hired as a result of its previous effort left within two years. Salzer is leaving for a job as a high school principal in Germany.
Edward Zuchowski, the school board’s vice chairman, will be the point person on the search for Salzer’s replacement. The makeup of a planned 11-member search committee is still being determined, as is the search timeline.
“We want to move along as quickly as we can,” Zuchowski said in an interview Friday. “The mayor was going to contact NESDEC today. If they say the can get going quickly, we would start the process as soon as we can to get everything in place.”
Mayor David J. Narkewicz had offered the services of the city’s Human Resources Department for the superintendent search, and at the request of the School Committee, also looked into search services offered by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees and a national for-profit search firm, Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates of Illinois.
In the end, the board chose NESDEC, with several members citing cost as the main reason.
Board member Stephanie Pick, who chaired the search committee in 2011, also cited the council’s experience in recruiting national candidates.
“They led us through a very thoughtful process last time,” Pick said. “I would be in favor of working with them again because I was very pleased with the outcome.”
Board member Michael Flynn said he preferred to let the city Human Resources Department oversee the search, but ultimately voted to go with the school development organization.
He said city residents have told him they want the superintendent search to focus on local candidates “who have an investment in the local community.”
Founded in 1946 at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, NESDEC has 300 member school districts in New England, according to its website.
The Northampton School Department is also seeking replacements for three city school principals. Northampton High School Principal Nancy Athas and R.K. Finn Ryan Road School Principal Margaret Riddle are retiring and Leeds School Principal Joseph Smith is resigning as of June 30.
Salzer is chairing the eight-member search committee for the Finn Ryan Road leader. He said the group has received 36 applications and selected six candidates for interviews. Members expect to choose two to three finalists for a second round of interviews and public forums on April 30, Salzer said.
The NHS and Leeds School jobs have been posted, with an application deadline of April 19, according to the school department.
Northampton Student Services Director Laurie Farkas is chairing the NHS search committee and Academic Effectiveness Director Johanna McKenna is chairing the search at Leeds.