As school officials begin their search for the next principal of Staples High School, the community is being surveyed on the kind of leader they next want to see at the high school's helm.

John Dodig, 70, the Staples principal for the past 11 years, announced in December that he plans to step down at the end of the academic year.

"A critical part of the search for a new principal is input from our parents," according to a memo to parents signed by Marge Cion, the school district's director of human resources, and Superintendent of Schools Elliot Landon.

"We have designed a survey that will solicit that input," they added. "Your feedback will directly impact the district's ability to attract the highest quality candidate to fill this very important position." A link to the survey was included in the memo.

The deadline to submit completed surveys is 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

There are three main questions in the seven-part survey. One is what parents feel are the "most critically needed personal characteristics and background experiences for a new principal." Parents are then asked to rank the characteristics -- like "communication skills" and "approachable and supportive" -- on a scale of 1 to 5.

Other survey questions are what challenges the new principal will face and what is the most important "selling points" to recruit candidates for the principal vacancy.

So far, more than 70 people have applied for the position, Cion said Wednesday. "Dr. Landon and I are conducting screening interviews for the 30 applicants who have the appropriate credentials and background for the position," she added.

"We did not use an outside consultant for this search," Cion said. "We have advertised nationally both in print and on line. Dr. Landon has consulted with his network of peers throughout the country, including the American Association of Administrators, the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education and the Tri State Consortium."

Cion said officials are currently selecting members of the search committee and plan to conduct the next round of interviews with the committee next week. "The committee will consist of central office administrators, school-based administrators, teachers, parents and students," she said.

As for the community survey, "we have close to 300 responses so far," she noted.

In an email sent to school staff announcing his retirement late last year, Dodig called his job "an absolute joy," but added, "all good things must come to an end at some point" and "that time has come for me."

Landon, during the December board meeting, said Dodig's departure is "a sad one." Dodig, he added, had a "monumentally positive impact and incredible influence" at the high school. "The kids love him and the parents have confidence in him," Landon said.

Here is the link to the survey: http://bit.ly/1zKQ3cX