Boston’s plan to hire a new public schools superintendent by the end of June is aggressive but not unrealistic, a newly hired consultant told the search committee on Tuesday as he proposed a quick two-month timeline to review the candidates and choose a new leader.
James Guerra, president and CEO of JG Consulting, said he plans to post the job nationally and “open the portal” to online applicants by Friday. He recommended giving candidates three or four weeks to respond before an initial review of applications by a committee in mid-May, followed by two rounds of interviews over the course of the weeks. June 6 and June 13.
“We have enough time without compromising the integrity of our work,” he said.
Superintendent Brenda Cassellius announced in February that she would step down at the end of the school year, a decision described as a “mutual decision” with new mayor Michelle Wu, but which has never been fully explained to the public. Since then, a search committee led by Bunker Hill Community College President Pam Eddinger and School Board Member Lorena Lopera has solicited input from system stakeholders, drafted a job description and selected the consultancy, based in Austin, Texas, among seven bidders. recruit and screen candidates at a cost of $75,000.
With leaders concerned with minimizing latency and skipping an acting boss, speed the schedule has raised concerns it could add pressure to hire a leader who may not be the best candidate. The city’s latest national search for a new superintendent lasted a year.
“I want to make sure that we have enough time to process the information and reflect, and that we don’t feel rushed to choose someone,” Roxi Harvey, a member of the research committee and president of the Boston Special Education Parent Advisory Council. “I understand the goal is June 30, but I don’t want to take any shortcuts to reach an arbitrary date.”
JG Consulting was the runner-up in 2018 when the city chose a company to help find its final superintendent; this search committee instead opted for a consultant with local ties and a longer track record. Guerra said Tuesday that his team had conducted 25 searches for superintendents over the past seven years; 72% of candidates hired were people of color and 45% were women. More than 90% are still in office at a time when the average term for superintendents nationwide is less than three years, he said. (Cassellius is completing his third year.)
The company has been involved in two other recent searches for school administrators in the city, he said: for a principal at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School after years of instability, and an assistant superintendent for lead the District English Learners Office. Announced in August 2020, this position was filled by Silvia Romero-Johnson in November 2020; she left the district less than a year later.