2017-08-11 / Front Page

Consultant hired for superintendent search


The search for Garden City’s next superintendent of schools took shape in this week. On Tuesday August 8, the same night Dr. Alan Groveman took his oath of office as the interim superintendent (following a week’s training under the recently-retired Dr. Robert Feirsen), the Board of Education approved a $32,280 contract with consulting firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates to conduct a national talent search to fill the position. With Dr. Groveman under contract for the next year, by August of 2018 the school board expects the district to have its next educational leader set to steer the district. Board President Angela Heineman provided the community with the comprehensive plan and said that next month, at the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, September 19, the duo from Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates will meet the public, give a formal presentation on the superintendent search, and listen to any questions that come up.

“The board is appointing HYAA to assist in its search for a superintendent. Since Dr. Feirsen announced his retirement in April the board has been working diligently through these months to effectuate a smooth and efficient transition process. The new permanent superintendent will be in place some time during the summer of 2018,” she said.

The board and Assistant Superintendent for Business Dana DiCapua developed an RFP (request for proposals), which was released in June. The school board received five proposals in response. “We carefully reviewed those proposals, we evaluated them, and we interviewed three finalists from the five. We conducted lengthy interviews with our list of five and spoke with references who have used the firms. The board is very pleased to work with the search team of Debbie Raizes and Robert Roelle to find the next superintendent of Garden City Schools. We chose the experienced HYAA team because of their extensive experience with similar districts in Nassau County our region and national network, their level of service, their reasoned, thorough, proactive approach to the search process, and their track record of success,” Heineman explained.

Last November Manhasset Public Schools hired Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates to assist in its search for a new superintendent. Heineman said at Tuesday’s meeting that the board’s most important job is hiring the superintendent, often called “the CEO of the school district.” She asserted that the search firm’s help will help Garden City Public Schools move forward with “business as usual” and adhere to moving forward with the district’s missions and goals.

Raizes was a board of education member in Scarsdale and a board trustee of Leslie University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and she has been a search consultant for two decades. Roelle has 20 years’ experience as a superintendent of schools in Westchester County. Heineman said the combination of “ambition and expertise” will serve Garden City Public Schools well as it seeks its next educational leader.

“Debbie Raizes will be the lead consultant and she’s conducted approximately 80 searches, mostly in high-performing Westchester, Long Island and Fairfield County, Connecticut districts. We are anxious to begin this process and from all we have heard from other board members who’ve been through this – it is tense, time-consuming and we are up for the challenge,” she said.

The district’s contract with the search firm is not to exceed $32,380, “plus additional reimbursement expenses approved in advance by the board, expressly contingent upon and subject to negotiation and approval of an agreement by district counsel.”

Immediately after Labor Day, the same week as the board of education’s September work session, Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates will hold its initial planning meeting with district leadership. Heineman announced that gathering would shape the timeline and steps involved in the search process.

“Once that is done we will inform the community of those next steps and provide information on the various avenues for gathering community input – whether via electronic surveys, interviews, parent focus groups or open forums. We are focused, working as a team, and the consultants will assist us in seeking input from the community and our constituent groups. We will keep the community and our staff informed and apprised of the process as it unfolds,” Heineman said.

The school board will next convene on Wednesday, September 6, for its monthly work session. At that meeting the board will present Garden City district goals for the 2017-2018 school year, as well as an update on the district’s work on the potential change to a later high school starting time, which could happen by fall 2018 at the earliest.

In his first “Superintendent’s Report” in Garden City this week, Dr. Groveman commented on recent “Starting Time Study” meetings.

“We had a very, very preliminary review of enrollment projections and we will continue to ensure that we have valid and accurate of enrollment projections when we go through the discussions of changing the starting times. The board knows, but the public may not be aware, but the enrollment for this year in kindergarten is about 318 – well above the expectations and it required extra staffing. We will look at the probability of this continuing, and we’ll modify all the numbers to following the incoming kindergarten throughout the years. If the kindergarten changes then next year first grade changes, etc. That is evolving, and we also met with the district transportation department to get a view of what any possible change to district starting times would mean for transportation,” he said.

Groveman thanked Dr. Feirsen for his professional tutelage in the last five work days of July and for offering so much help in the transition. Dr. Groveman officially began his board-approved one-year contract to be superintendent on August 1, and he said with Dr. Feirsen taking a position at NYIT, weeks ahead of the fall semester, the college was very generous to “tolerate me extremely well,” he joked.

Heineman also commented on Groveman’s learning experiences in July, meeting with the district staff and board members, including herself. He also spent time coordinating with Central Office personnel and faculty members. Assistant Superintendents Dr. Edward Cannone and Dr. Maureen Appiarius also met with Dr. Groveman to discuss their respective departments: curriculum initiatives, professional development and personnel updates. In addition, the District Clerk and Assistant Superintendent for Business Dana DiCapua discussed details of the current school budget (2017-2018) and the projected 2018-2019 budget.

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