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Community Invited to Participate in Focus Group for West Hartford Superintendent Search

West Hartford Public Schools Superintendent's Office. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

A focus group will be held on Monday, Dec. 12, and members of the community are invited to share their feedback for the superintendent of schools selection process.

By Ronni Newton

A series of focus groups with stakeholders have been held as part of the process of selecting West Hartford’s new superintendent of schools, and all members of the community are invited to the final session, which will be held on Monday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium.

The entire West Hartford Board of Education is serving as the search committee and has engaged Cooperative Educational Services (CES) to conduct the search, and their representatives will lead all of the focus groups.

“The Board wants to make sure the community has the ability to give input on skills and attributes they’re looking for in a superintendent,” said Julio Duarte, executive director of Human Resources for West Hartford Public Schools. He said holding a community-wide focus group will be another way to gather valuable feedback.

The focus group on Dec. 12 is open to anyone in the community, and there is no need to register in advance. Prior sessions have been for specific stakeholders, with sessions being held this week for parents/caregivers, students from the town’s middle and high schools, and West Hartford Public Schools staff, partners, and building and district administrators.

An online survey had also been sent out to the West Hartford Public Schools community, with responses gathered until the survey closed on Nov. 27. Board of Education Chair Lorna Thomas-Farquharson said Tuesday night that more than 600 responses had been received to the survey.

“We are so thankful for those who have participated in the focus groups and intend to participate in the [upcoming] focus groups,” Thomas-Farquharson said.

Applications for the superintendent position closed on Dec. 1 and details about the applicant pool are being compiled.

The interview process will be next, and will likely begin sometime in January, Duarte said.

Thomas-Farquharson said she is thankful for the partnership with CES, and the process of identifying who will best lead the West Hartford Public Schools district. Following the conclusion of the focus groups, CES will take that information, along with the information from the online survey, “and will synthesize to put together candidate profile of who we are looking for to lead our district.”

A spokesperson for CES said their recruiting efforts included reaching out to nearly 10,000 people, including current superintendents as well as others with the proper certification who are in the Northeast region, as well as district leaders and regional superintendent organizations from throughout the country. The position was also posted on multiple educational organization websites.

More information about the search process can be found on the “superintendent search” webpage on the West Hartford Public Schools website.

Tom Moore, who had served as West Hartford’s superintendent of schools for nearly eight years, announced in late February that he would be leaving the district at the end of the school year for a new position in the Chicago area. On April 5, the Board of Education announced that Andy Morrow, the district’s assistant superintendent for administration since 2014, would serve as interim superintendent beginning July 1, 2022.

Morrow’s interim appointment is through June 30, 2023, or until a new superintendent is appointed.

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