Dear Weston Community,
On behalf of the Weston School Committee, welcome back to what will surely be an exciting and momentous school year. Over the summer, we have been busy welcoming our new Interim Superintendent, Dr. Karen Zaleski, and new Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations, Steven Nembirkow, to Weston. In addition, since the late spring we have been planning for the upcoming year, including laying out the process for the search and selection of our permanent superintendent.
As was done during the Interim Superintendent search, the School Committee will provide periodic updates to the community to share our progress and keep everyone informed by email and by posting to the School Committee’s section of the District’s website. This first update is intended to provide an overview of the process that was approved by the School Committee at our August 21st meeting.
As background, in the Spring of 2023, when we selected Dr. Zaleski as our interim superintendent, the School Committee stated two things. First, we were looking for an interim that had the potential to lead our district on a permanent basis. Second, the School Committee would be conducting a full search in the Fall for a permanent superintendent. That search would have greater community involvement and may attract a different, wider pool of candidates than would consider applying for an interim position. During the interim superintendent search the School Committee reached out to the community, and the community certainly responded! We received tremendous feedback through our online survey, numerous focus groups (including elementary/secondary parents, administrators, teachers, and parent-led organizations), written comments, and questionnaires from the Meet the Candidates zoom event. While all of this collected information will be used, we will have additional ways for the community to get involved.
Screening & Preliminary Interview Subcommittees
The first avenue for community input and involvement is with the Application Screening Subcommittee and Preliminary Interview Subcommittee. The School Committee is seeking a broad, representative group of community members, including parents, Westonians, administrators, educators, and staff to review and assess applications and select candidates to move forward to the semi-finalist interview stage. There will be a separate, smaller Preliminary Interview Committee that will conduct semi-finalist interviews and forward finalists onto the entire School Committee for the public portion of the process. The work of these two committees will be confidential to help us attract the broadest and most qualified pool of candidates, as is customary. As can be expected, potential candidates may not want to notify their current districts that they are applying and seeking new opportunities until they make it to the finalist stage and decide that they want to make the leap to the next round.
We encourage community members who are interested in serving on either the Screening Subcommittee or Preliminary Interview Subcommittee to apply by September 16th using this online form. Please forward this announcement to those who may be interested who may not be on the school’s email list – as all Weston-connected community members are encouraged to submit their interest to serve!
These are some of the key activities and milestones of the Superintendent Search process.
- August 1st & 2nd: School Committee held preliminary discussions on search process options and reviewed a draft of the superintendent job description to be published widely, and for a longer duration than the interim job opening.
- August 21st: School Committee voted to:
- Finalize the Superintendent Job Description and posting timelines.
- Utilize MASC (Massachusetts Association of School Committees) staff to provide technical assistance during the search process. MASC has assisted in innumerable superintendent searches and has deep experience in this area. For more information on their experience see here.
- Utilize subcommittees to screen applicants and conduct preliminary interviews.
- September 5th – October 6th: Job posting open and broadly publicized with support from MASC. Applications are submitted directly to MASC for collection and will be returned to the screening subcommittee in confidence.
- Now through September 16th: Collect interest from the community to join the Application Screening and Preliminary Interview Subcommittees using this form.
- September 18th: Screening and Preliminary Interview Subcommittee members are announced at the School Committee meeting.
- October 10th-20th: Screening subcommittee members receive the applications, standard assessment rubric, and then meet in person for a confidential executive session to deliberate and select semi-finalists to be forwarded to the Preliminary Interview Subcommittee.
- October 26 & 27th: Preliminary Interview Subcommittee conducts semi-finalist interviews in confidential executive session and identifies candidates to recommend for finalist status.
- October 27-30th: Candidates selected as finalist recommendations are notified and agree to be publicly named as potential finalists.
- October 30th: School Committee receives finalist candidates.
- November 20-December 1st: Finalist interviews (open to the public), site visits, and opportunities for the community to engage with candidates. Specific community events will be determined and announced later, with the potential for scheduling changes as needed and determined by the School Committee.
- December 4th: School Committee votes to select Permanent Superintendent.
- Mid-December – January 2024: School Committee negotiates and signs a multiyear contract with an anticipated start date of July 1, 2024.
Interim Role during this process
During the selection process for a Permanent Superintendent, Dr. Zaleski will be leading our district as she has since July 1, 2023 to ensure that we continue to provide a world-class education for our students. As she stated during the interim interview process, she is interested in being our permanent superintendent and is anticipated to apply. There are likely to be awkward moments, but she, the broader administration, and School Committee are all committed to making sure the important work of running and improving our district continues.
At the end of this process, Dr. Zaleski may be the candidate chosen as the permanent superintendent, or another candidate may prevail. We are dedicated to treating each applicant fairly, giving due regard to their credentials, experience, and fit for what Weston needs at this moment. Regardless of the outcome, a robust interview and selection process will give whomever is selected more credibility and strength in leading our District, as well as ensuring that we have the best possible long term superintendent for Weston.
This process will be a great deal of work, but selecting a permanent leader is worth the effort. We hope the community will support us by remaining positive with our candidates and show all who express interest the best of Weston. Please withhold judgment and the submission of opinions until after the finalists are announced publicly. A process that is supportive, fair, and positive for all candidates, including those not chosen, is important so that top-quality candidates continue to consider Weston now and in the future.
The School Committee is excited to work with our community on this next important step for Weston Public Schools.
Until next time,
Ken Newberg and Maija Cirulis-Gooch
Chair and Vice Chair
Weston School Committee
Edit: This letter previously listed December 6th as the date the School Committee will vote on the Permanent Superintendent. This was corrected to December 4th on September 6, 2023.