BoE Superintendent Search Advances - PCSD Holds Focus Group Meeting

In October, it was announced that Pawling Central School District (PCSD) Superintendent Dr. William Ward would be retiring at the conclusion of this school year. Dr. Ward will officially end his six-year tenure on July 12, and the Board of Education has begun the process of selecting the next superintendent for the district.

On Monday, January 28, at Pawling Elementary School, district officials invited parents and community members to meet with consultants from the search firm that will aid in selecting PCSD’s next superintendent. The district has selected School Leadership LLC to assist in screening and selecting candidates. School Leadership was also the firm used to help select Dr. Ward six years ago.

The consultants, Dr. Charles Fowler and Dr. Frank Chiachiere, both have extensive backgrounds in education and have participated in numerous superintendent searches for districts in New York State. Fowler had previously served as a school and BOCES superintendent in four states, while Chiachiere is a former administrator and adjunct professor, and currently serves on the Board of Education for the Valley Stream School District.

The January 28 focus group meeting was an opportunity to gather public comments about what qualifications the next PCSD superintendent should have. The consultants also made inquiries into potential areas of improvement within the schools, positives and negatives of the community, and challenges that the district will face going forward. Numerous topics were covered through the course of the meeting, including class sizes, school security, science research, athletics, and the impact of bullying. A second community feedback meeting was scheduled for the following evening but was cancelled due to inclement weather. The community was also invited to complete an online survey to offer guidance on the search process, and district officials received more than one hundred responses.

In addition to the community meeting, the consultants from School Leadership also met with staff, parents, students, and community leaders including Mayor Rob Liffland and Town Supervisor James Schmitt. These meetings were held to assess how the new superintendent should fit into not only the school district, but also the community as a whole.

Working with the PCSD search committee, the consultants will now begin assembling a list of roughly fifteen to twenty candidates to be reviewed and vetted by the Board of Education. From that list, five or six applicants will be selected to be interviewed by the Board. District officials estimate that the selection process should be completed by the end of March, and an entry plan may begin for the new superintendent as early as April.

At the Board of Education meeting on Monday, February 4, officials convened an executive session to assess guidance provided by public comments and the School Leadership consultants, and to design protocols for the search and selection process to begin without delay.

The next Board of Education meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Pawling Elementary School, 7 Haight Street.