The superintendent of schools in Boston will be a desirable job across the country, School Committee Chair Michael Loconto said this month as the process began to choose a new school leader.
“Boston is a place people want to be and always has been,” he said. “It’s big enough in some ways that you can achieve noteworthy results, but a specific size where you can also innovate. You get a lot of support from higher education, business leaders and philanthropy here…There’s been a lot of chatter at about the opening in Boston. People have been suggesting candidates throughout the fall. We believe we’ll see a good crop of viable candidates.”
The Committee has approved its job description for the position already late last year, and brought on the search firm of Isaacson Miller.
The firm has an agreement in principal now, he said, and they are getting to work with the Search Committee.
“We’re on track to have public interviews this spring and have someone chosen on or before the start of the next school year,” he said. “It’s important for us to get someone on board for the start of the next school year. It will be important to bring them on as far in advance as we can…There’s a lot that goes into that.”
Right now, Boston does face some competition among major cities, with Dallas and Houston having vacancies. Those are much bigger cities though, and Loconto said some of the real competitors are the likes of Columbus, Ohio and Denver – who also have vacancies and are searching.
Some of those larger districts are ahead of Boston, as their last superintendents gave notice long before former Supt. Tommy Chang did at the end of the last school year. Nonetheless, Loconto said the desirability of the city will likely play in Boston’s favor.
“They’ll probably make their hires prior to us,” he said. “Nonetheless, I know it’s competitive in terms of like districts and in terms of size, but Boston is a place that has no peer in support for innovation. That tells us we’ll be a good location regardless of the others.”
One very important aspect for this incoming superintendent, he said, would be knowing how to see through a building project. With BuildBPS just getting started, and a remaining $800 million in school funding pledged to that process, any new superintendent is going to have to know how to collaborate and coordinate, Loconto said.
“It’s going to have to be an important characteristic,” he said, noting that they would look for someone who has experience re-organizing a district and even raising money for school building projects.
That will only come, though, if the candidate shows that they can building coalitions in a political environment and collaborate with other effectively.
Within the month, the search firm and the Search Committee will begin receiving applications, and they hope to have the private, soft interviews by late February. That would usher in the public interviews sometime in the spring, just like was done with Supt. Chang several years ago.