Search for new Amity superintendent of schools goes into high gear

Amity Regional School District’s interim superintendent of schools already is putting his mark on the district, as a consultant whittles down the candidate pool from a nationwide search for someone to permanently fill the position.

James Connelly, a seasoned administrator who also served as interim superintendent in Woodbridge years ago, met the Amity board Monday, July 16, in a special meeting — there usually is no July meeting — after being chosen in June to temporarily fill the top spot.

Connelly told the board he’s going to make sure the district’s schools are fully staffed going into the school year and during the hiring process will more closely vet candidates, calling former employers and not just references.

He’ll start the school year with a “convocation” — or big assembly, Connelly said, and as part of orientation for new staff will have administrators take them around Bethany, Orange and Woodbridge to get a feel for the communities from which students come .

He also recommended the board go on a retreat together since some members are relatively new, and offered to accompany them.

“I’m not a chair-warmer,” Connelly said. “I look forward to serving with you.”

Connelly said the district is in good shape already, left that way by Superintendent of Schools Charles Dumais, who left the district recently to become executive director at Cooperative Educational Services.

Meanwhile, the board was updated on the search for a new superintendent by Joseph Erardi, retired longtime Newtown superintendent of schools who now owns JE Consulting and has been hired to do the search.

Erardi told the board many great candidates already are in the pool and that he is getting valuable feedback on what people want to see in a superintendent, through meetings and focus groups.

The board and JE Consulting will host community forums Aug. 1, 7 and 8 to talk about what qualities they want in a new leader. The first forum was held July 12 with success, Erardi said.

The one-hour meetings start at 7 p.m. and take place in the Presentation Room at 25 Newton Road. Parents, students, staff and community members are encouraged to attend at least one meeting, the district website states.

Opinions also can be shared by completing a superintendent survey available on the website.

Erardi said he’ll return to the board Aug. 13 with a complete report on what the public wants in a superintendent.

Board Chairman Christopher Browe said the board should also be thinking about what it is looking for in a candidate and what requirements might be set.

Erardi said that after Aug. 13, it will be time for first-round interviews of seven or eight candidates, then that number will go to two or three. Erardi said he’ll provide the board with a “big bank” of questions to choose from and they can add their own.

Erardi told the board he does not “hold in high regard” situations in which a candidate is leaving under duress or fleeing a bad situation.