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GROTON — Intending to move quickly with the search process for a new school superintendent, members of the Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee last week worked on final wording of advertising and composition of focus groups.

Planning a relatively short search process made up of two compact parts, the first taking place before the new year and the second afterwards, committee members were given a work schedule drawn up by Search Committee chairman John Sjoberg and the New England School Development Council, the group’s consultant.

Among the first tasks noted in the outline was to begin advertising for the position in October and November in order to have applications in before the Christmas holidays. Plans call for the first round of finalist interviews in January.

To that end, members were asked for their input at the committee’s meeting of Oct. 7 before language for the advertisement was submitted to NESDEC for review.

Although committee members had little to offer by way of criticism, Berta Erickson did point out the lack of teaching experience as one of the criteria for candidates.

“I’m old fashioned that way,” said Erickson, explaining that she felt it was important that the superintendent have real world classroom experience.

School superintendent Alan Genovese said the new trend in hiring administrators is in people who have been specifically trained as such rather than the old way of having “come up through the ranks.”

Committee chairman James Frey added that due to the tight search schedule, it did not benefit the district to leave any potential candidates out of the pool even if they lacked one of the qualities listed in the advertisement.

“I don’t disagree with that at all,” said Paul Funch of Erickson’s suggestion. “But the advertisement should be (worded) as broad as possible.”

Not unopposed to Erickson’s request, Frey said that her suggestion would be placed under advisement when the wording was submitted to NESDEC.

Next, committee members were asked to consider the number and composition of focus groups made up of different segments of the district’s population each of whom would be asked for input about what they would like to see in a candidate for superintendent.

In Frey’s initial presentation, seven focus groups were identified including the School Committee itself, but discussion soon revolved around special interest groups versus the citizenry of Groton and Dunstable.

Supporting the notion of getting as many groups as possible involved, Funch said that doing so “creates a better dynamic” for batting ideas around.

But committee members agreed that more accommodation for ordinary citizens should be made.

In the end, eight focus groups were settled upon: the School Committee, teachers, the school’s support staff, municipal government officials and employees, parents and such civic organizations as Groton Dunstable Alliance for Youth, students and those citizens primarily without children in the school system.

According to the schedule, focus groups are expected to meet during the week of Oct. 26 and their findings submitted to the School Committee for discussion on Nov. 16.

School Committee members began the search process after Genovese informed them earlier in the year that he was retiring at the end of June 2010, when his contract expires.

Genovese was hired by the district in 2005 to replace outgoing superintendent Mary Jennings and is expected to remain on the job to aid in the transition to his successor.

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