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Superintendent Candidates to Get Workplace Visits on Wednesday, Next Week

Five member teams from the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School Districts will visit the current school district or workplace of the four finalists to become the next school superintendent.

They’ve come here. Now leaders will go there.

Five person teams of School Committee members and Superintendent Search Committee members will spend a few hours touring the home school districts and workplaces of .

“The plan is to visit each site for about three hours,” said Dacia Rubel, the School Committee member who is working with consultant Tony Bent to arrange all the visits.

The first visits are planned for Wednesday. A team will visit Pentucket Regional School District, where candidate William Hart works as the assistant superintendent, from 8:30-11:30 a.m. In the afternoon, a team will visit the Masconomet Regional School District from 1-4 p.m., where candidate Susan Givens is the chief financial officer.

Each of the candidates has chosen co-workers, including principals, plus parents and town leaders to meet with the visiting Hamilton-Wenham team.

On Wednesday, May 2, a team will visit Belmont from 9 a.m.-noon where candidate Michael Harvey is the principal at . A team will then visit the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Malden from 1:30-4 p.m., where candidate Julia Phelps works. She will also bring in former co-workers from past school districts, since she does not currently work in a school district.

Rubel said it is a “pretty aggressive schedule,” but said that is by design so that the School Committee can work towards a decision as soon as possible and the committee can make an offer to the top candidate before that person may be hired in another district.

"It’s important to keep the process moving,” Rubel said. “(The candidates) are making the grade in other places too.”

In 2010, the last time the school district undertook a superintendent search, site visits were made to the home district of Dr. Raleigh Buchanan in Haverhill. He was eventually hired but left after less than a year after . The other two candidate, Maxine Minkoff and Susan Beckmann, were not working in a school district at the time. Beckmann was a member and former chairman of the Manchester-Essex School Committee and a school consultant and Minkoff was the former assistant superintendent in Sandwich.

There are several objectives for the visits, including the hope to “fine-tune perceptions.”

“I’m looking to get a sense of how they are viewed in their respective communities,” Rubel said.

Rubel said it will also be interesting to hear from students in each district.

“Sometimes the best information isn’t what is solicited but something we just stumbled on,” she said.

Rubel said the committee will have to keep in mind that most of the people the visiting teams will talk to are chosen by the candidate. And also be mindful that in some cases, they may hear glowing reviews because a district may want the candidate to leave their current district, “but I don’t think that’s the case here.”

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