Firm hired to guide search for new school superintendent
Published 2:29 pm, Tuesday, July 28, 2015
The Board of Education has hired an executive search firm to help select a new school superintendent to replace Elliott Landon, who will retire next June 30 after 17 years with the town’s public school district.
The board on Monday hired Hazard, Young and Attea, the executive search division of ECRA (Education/Consulting/Research/Analytics) Group Inc., which has a Northeast regional office in Jersey City, N.J.
“The selection of a new superintendent is the most important responsibility of any Board of Education,” Michael Gordon, the school board chairman, said in a statement. “We are committed to a process that will offer all of our stakeholders the opportunity to share their views about the needs of the school system and the qualities, characteristics and experiences they believe will meet those needs for the next generation.”
HYA is being paid $22,500 for the search, said Gordon. “We expect the formal process for the search to begin the first full week of the school year, which is the week of Aug. 31,” he said.
“HYA will begin a series of focus groups with all of our stakeholders and also will conduct an online survey in which anyone in the community can participate,” Gordon added. He said specifics will be announced in August.
“The board will consider all of the input that HYA receives and develop a profile for the superintendent search based on that,” Gordon added. “We plan to be highly selective and will take the time we need to find the right match for the long-terms strength of the Westport schools.”
Jeannie Smith, the board’s vice chairwoman, said the panel “was impressed with both the approach that HYA will take in helping conduct the search as well as with the consultant team that will be assisting the board.”
The consultant team will include Deborah Raizes, former chairwoman of the Scarsdale Board of Education, who has 18 years of experience with superintendent searches. Other members of the team are: John Chambers, former superintendent of the Bronxville and Byram Hills (Armonk) school districts in New York, and Gary Richards, former superintendent of the Wilton, New Canaan, San Marino, Calif., and Oak Park, Calif., schools.
“The members of the Westport Board of Education are exceptionally thoughtful and deliberative, and we are excited about working with all of them,” Raizes said in the board’s statement. “We look forward to getting started on helping the board find the next superintendent for the Westport Public Schools.”
HYA has an extensive history of success in working with boards in high-performing districts throughout the Northeast and across the country to find candidates who will provide long-term leadership to school districts, according a press release from the BOE.
Of the 328 superintendents hired with HYA’s assistance since 2000, 90 percent of those individuals led their district for several years, the release said.
Landon announced his retirement in early May. Later that month, the Board of Education granted a final 2.63 percent raise for Landon raising his annual salary from $293,000 to $300,641, the highest compensation paid to a superintendent in the state.
The school board, which last year had not approved a raise for Landon, approved the increase unanimously at its May 18 board meeting.
In 2013, the school board granted Landon a two-year contract extension and a 1.75 percent pay increase. At that time, his contract was scheduled to expire last June 30. In extending the pact last year, however, the board decided against a pay increase.
At that same May 18 meeting, the school board also designated itself as the search committee to select a new superintendent. Gordon, at that time, said there would be a national search to hire Landon’s replacement.