New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

Feature News

Survey Available as Part of Superintendent Search

A link to a stakeholder survey, which will be used to develop a candidate/community profile for the next New Britain schools superintendent, is now available for all community members to take on the district’s website ( and Facebook page.

Those interested in taking the four-question survey—which is available in English or Spanish—must do so by this coming Tuesday, Nov. 10, when the survey closes.

“This survey is one of the tools being used in the development of our candidate profile and community profile,” explained Board of Education President Sharon Beloin Saavedra. “The information generated by the survey, along with the board’s forums and focus groups, will guide the BOE in our process and decision making.” The survey also “allows all voices to be part of the process,” she added.

City schools are currently seeking a new superintendent because BOE members voted last spring to not renew the contract (which expires in June 2016) of current Superintendent Kelt Cooper. At the time, Beloin Saavedra said of Cooper—who has been superintendent since July 2012—”many BOE members felt his leadership style had run its course.”

Earlier this month, the Board of Education (BOE) voted to appoint itself as the “superintendent search committee” and not enlist the services of a search firm, which can cost upwards of $20,000-$24,000.

The school board hopes to have a replacement for Cooper—who will be leaving at the end of the 2015-16 school year—hired by April 2016.

“The BOE will work with our HR department and our BOE secretary to manage the process,” Beloin Saavedra said earlier this month.

That process includes getting as much community feedback as possible. A Parent Forum was held on Oct. 26 at the NBHS Lecture Hall and a Community Forum at OIC (the former St. Ann’s school on North St.) took place on Wednesday, Oct. 28; in addition, various stakeholder focus groups will transpire Nov. 6-13.

“The five focus groups are by invitation only and are sized at about 10-12 folks per group,” said Beloin Saavedra. “This allows for an In-depth discussion with various stakeholder representatives [including] ex-board of teachers union; building principals; Latino Coalition; Chamber of Commerce; Coalition for New Britain’s Youth; [and the] community management team of Safe Schools Healthy Students.”

Several additional focus groups are in the process of being scheduled, she added.

In terms of views expressed thus far by community members at the forums, Beloin Saavedra said that the “top qualities” include a new superintendent who has communication skills; listening skills; trusts staff; allows staff to be creative; believes in all the kids’ potential to be successful; understands that poverty isn’t permanent and that poverty isn’t an indicator of potential; and understands that poverty affects opportunities not potential.

Another quality community members would like to see in a new superintendent is that the individual is “resource savvy and understand[s] how to prioritize what gets funded based on student needs,” according to the board president; in addition, the public would like to see a new superintendent who “becomes familiar with the New Britain community, including our neighborhoods” and someone who “understands what the challenges and triumphs are.”

The profiles that emerge from this process will be used to create the advertisements and become part of job posting; the advertisements/posting for the superintendent will take place in December, according to Beloin Saavedra.

In addition, two 10-member interview committees, representing a diverse group of stakeholders, will be established.

“The internal team [will] have members from all our unions and non-union employees,” said Beloin Saavedra. “The external team will have parents and community folks.”

The BOE, as the search committee, with the support of HR, will screen applications and select candidates to be interviewed, added the board president.

“The teams will develop questions and interview candidates to provide feedback/ recommendations to the BOE,” she explained. “The BOE, as the search committee, will also be interviewing candidates.”

Finalist(s) will be presented to the community at an open forum prior to the BOE’s vote to hire, according to Beloin Saavedra.