SOMA Board of Ed Decides to Advertise for More Superintendent Candidates

by The Village Green
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The South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education has decided to advertise for more candidates for the position of Superintendent of Schools.

The Board is searching for a new superintendent following the resignation of Brian Osborne in June. Currently, the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Administration James Memoli is working as the Acting Superintendent.

On Monday night, newly elected Board President Wayne Eastman announced that the Board was adjusting the timetable on the superintendent search slightly and would be advertising for more candidates. In a subsequent interview, Eastman explained that the changes reflect a desire to get this “most important” decision right. He said that the changes in no way reflected any differences in the views of former and current board leadership, nor with the quality of the candidates.

“We want to have the best possible pool,” said Eastman. “We’ve had an ambitious schedule and were hoping to recommend our selection in February. At this point, we’re looking at that being pushed back some, but we are still on a tight timeline to have all the candidates considered and have a choice to the community as early as March.”

“At the same time we are committed to getting this right,” said Eastman, who added that some might contend that “this is the very biggest thing that a Board of Education does. It’s better to take our time on it.”

“As President of the Board representing everyone on the Board, we are a group that is united in our commitment to get the best possible person. Everyone recognizes that it is not satisfactory to have a superintendent supported by five versus four or three members. We need broad support for whomever that person is.”

Eastman expressed praise for Dr. Leroy Nunery of HYA Associates, calling HYA a “lead search firm.” He added that the Board — including former leadership — is “in accord on the type of person we are looking for in broad terms. It’s very much a collective board decision,” said Eastman, “not a question of an individual leader.”

The Board began a search for a new superintendent starting with a series of forums and an online survey in the summer and early fall. Former Board President Beth Daugherty reported in October that the Board was “pleased by the thoughtfulness and volume of community input to the superintendent search process.” Approximately 650 online surveys were completed and 200 participants were involved in interviews, focus groups and open forums.

The Board finalized criteria to be used for the selection of a new superintendent of schools at a public meeting on October 13 after a presentation by Dr. Nunery.

The Board met in executive session to select candidates for the first round of interviews at a meeting on November 10. Nunery had previously reported that “22 or 23 candidates” had already applied for the job.


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