Recruitment firm holds community forum regarding superintendent search


An open community forum was held Tuesday night concerning the hiring of the new district superintendent. Deborah Raizes and John Chambers, representatives from Hazard, Young and Attea (HYA), the search firm charged with finding a new superintendent for Westport Public Schools, ran the forum.

“We are in the information gathering stage,” Chambers said, addressing the small crowd gathered in the Saugatuck Elementary Auditorium on Sept. 1.

According to Chambers, the purpose of the forum was to give the community a chance to discuss what they thought were important characteristics and issues to consider when picking a new superintendent.

Several points regarding diversity, technology, overcrowding and accessibility were raised by the parents, government representatives, and residents in attendance.

Rana Hafiz, whose son used to attend Staples, said that she “would like to see more diversity in general in Westport schools.” She continued later on, bringing up the point that as students prepare for 21st century jobs, understanding diversity will become a necessity.

Steve Halstead, a former member of the Board of Education, said that, beyond diversity, he hopes to see the quality of “educational leadership, meaning a commitment to excellence” reflected in a new superintendent. Halstead emphasized that the school system’s focus should be on “each and every child in the district.”

Beyond the nitty-gritty details of the issues and needs of the district, parents raised concerns about finding a person up-to the job. “You are looking for someone who can take care of kids from 6-12,” Yuko Moy, a parent of a Staples junior, said, “that is a huge responsibility.”

However, Raizes and Chambers appeared confident that they would be able to find a strong candidate.  “This is a fun job,” Raizes said, referring to the superintendent position. “People will view this as an opportunity to take a great district and make it better.”

The HYA team will present a written “Leadership Profile” to the Board of Education on Oct. 5. They will hold another forum on Thursday, Sept. 10 from 10-11:30am. at Town Hall Auditorium.