School officials this week outlined plans to search for a replacement for Superintendent of Schools Elliot Landon, who will be retiring at the end of this academic year.

Hazard, Young and Attea, the superintendent search firm hired by the school board, will be conducting interviews with school district leaders and organizing focus groups with school stakeholders. There will also be two community forums to hear public comments.

The first forum is scheduled for Sept. 1, from 7:30 to 9 p.m., in the Saugatuck Elementary School auditorium. The second will take place on Sept. 10, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., in the Town Hall auditorium.

The public, particularly the parents of local school children, are encouraged to attend the forums, according to the school board announcement.

In addition — beginning the week of Aug. 31 and lasting through mid-September — the consultants will be conducting an online survey of the community about qualities they would like in the next superintendent. Details and a link to the survey will be forthcoming, the school board statement said.

“As we have said since the beginning, we are committed to a process that will offer our stakeholders the opportunity to share their views about the needs of the school system and the qualities of the superintendent that will meet those needs,” Board of Education Chairman Michael Gordon said in the statement. “These forums and the online survey are important opportunities for parents and all stakeholders to lend their voices to the search.”

"The Board of Ed has been planning throughout the summer and is hitting the ground running in the new school year on the superintendent search,” added board Vice Chairwoman Jeannie Smith. “Our process is consciously thorough, and we will take the time we need to find the right superintendent for Westport."

There are several parts to the search process.

During the planning phase, the Hazard, Young and Attea search consultants will develop a profile and selection criteria for the next superintendent based on focus groups, interviews and surveys. Next is the recruitment phase where the firm will recruit prospective candidates, regionally and nationally.

During the selection process, the will identify and pre-interview the best qualified candidates. The school board then will hold follow-up interviews with finalists. Reference and background checks will also be done. This phase will also include conducting a site visit and negotiating a contract with the chosen candidate.