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03/29/2017

Interim school superintendent to continue as search yields no final candidates

Howard Colter will continue his role as interim school superintendent next year as the School Board announced March 28, 2017 that it had not found a candidate for the superintendent's position.

"At this point, despite thorough and exhaustive efforts from a variety of stakeholders, we have not yet found the best match for our community," the board announced in its March newsletter.

"In considering the options before us, the School Board unanimously agreed that the best choice at this point is no choice. We believe we should not settle for anything less than the right match, and will continue our pursuit of excellence on behalf of our students and staff."

It's Cape Elizabeth's second attempt to find a permanent superintendent since January, 2016, when then-Superintendent Meredith Nadeau said she would be leaving. Two candidates to succeed her were interviewed, but both withdrew before final consideration.

This time around, in March 2017, three candidates were interviewed from a field of five semifinalists. "To be clear, several of the candidates interviewed were strong contenders that were seriously considered," according to the announcement.

"The role of Superintendent, however, demands a certain balance of experience, leadership, and synergy that is custom to the needs of each school district. It is not a one-size-fits-all job," the newsletter says.

Next school year, with Colter acting as superintendent, the board will "explore different search strategies and continue its pursuit of the right leader for Cape Elizabeth Schools," the newsletter says.

"The board extends its deep gratitude to Howard (Colter), as his work in Cape Elizabeth has been nothing short of exemplary."

Here is the text of the newsletter:

Superintendent Search Update 

As promised, we would like to bring you up to date with the status of our search to hire a permanent Superintendent for the Cape Elizabeth School District.  

As you may remember, the original deadline for applications was in early January.  We extended that deadline to February 15th in order to increase the pool of applicants.  During that time we redoubled our recruitment efforts.  In early March, the Advisory Screening Committee, made up of community members, parents, teachers, administrators, and a few board members, reviewed and ranked applicants then sent their recommendations to the School Board.  These recommendations were reviewed and vetted by the School Board prior to holding interviews. The Interview Committee, comprised of teachers, administrators, and the entire School Board, met with five candidates during the week of March 7th.  That group came to consensus around three candidates who warranted a second interview.  The following week, the School Board met with those three candidates for another round of intensive interviews.    

At this point, despite thorough and exhaustive efforts from a variety of stakeholders, we have not yet found the best match for our community.  To be clear, several of the candidates interviewed were strong contenders that were seriously considered.  The role of Superintendent, however, demands a certain balance of experience, leadership, and synergy that is custom to the needs of each school district. It is not a one-size-fits-all job.  In considering the options before us, the School Board unanimously agreed that the best choice at this point is no choice.  We believe we should not settle for anything less than the right match, and will continue our pursuit of excellence on behalf of our students and staff.   

But what does that mean for next year?  We are delighted to share that Interim Superintendent Howard Colter has happily agreed to continue in his current role.  The board extends its deep gratitude to Howard, as his work in Cape Elizabeth has been nothing short of exemplary.  With the issue of next year settled, the board will explore different search strategies and continue its pursuit of the right leader for Cape Elizabeth Schools.
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Budget and Finance

Building a budget that meets the needs of all students and prepares them for success in an ever changing world is never easy, however this year it is even more challenging.  The initial report released from the state shows our state subsidy has been cut by $800,000 -- this is after a $780,000 cut last year.   Thus far each administrator and department head has presented his or her budget, along with what they believe should be in the budget but is not at this point.  This was followed by an intensive Q and A session.  On Tuesday March 28 (6:30 pm in the High School Library) we will continue with questions and answers.  Changes are still being made; additions, subtractions, and trade-offs are being weighed carefully while always keeping students at the center of the decisions.  We have added another budget meeting on Tuesday April 4 (5:00 pm in the High School Library) to provide an opportunity to answer any outstanding questions and for the board to share their opinions. At its April 11 regular business meeting (7:00 pm, Town Hall Chambers) the School Board is scheduled to vote to adopt the proposed budget and send it to the Town Council. 

The Town Council then has its own Budget Review Process with public workshops, budget hearings, and a vote to send it for a town validation. These are all scheduled for April 25th (School Board presents budget to Town Council - 7:00 pm, lower conference room, Town Hall), May 8th (Budget Public Hearing - 7:00 pm, Town Hall Chambers), and May 15th (Town Council vote on school budget - 7:00 pm, Town Hall Chambers). Finally, the school budget validation vote will be held on Tuesday, June 13th.

For more information, including budget documents, click here. Documents will be  uploaded as they become available during the budget process.

We want to hear from you throughout the process. Please feel free to share your thoughts or ask questions. As always, there will be a period for public comment at the beginning of each session. To email us, contact School Board Chair, Elizabeth Scifres elizabeth.scifres@gmail.com.

All budget workshops are held in the high school library, are open to the public, taped and posted on the school department website.
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Policy Update

The policy committee has been working for the past two months reviewing our Volunteer Policy.  District Volunteer Coordinator John Holdridge spent the first several months of the school year gathering information about the procedures and practices of our volunteers.  He then reported to the policy committee and gave recommendations for improvements to the committee, administrators, and parent participants.  The policy committee plans to offer a slightly revised policy for first reading at the April 11 regular board meeting, then move on to proficiency-based education required policies.  Cathy Stankard will be discussing those proposed changes at the April 11 policy meeting, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the lower conference room at Town Hall.