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Superintendent search 'on schedule 

The search for the Rochester City School District's next superintendent is well under way, school board president Van White says. The board received 31 applications for the job, and it has narrowed that down to seven people. The board is interviewing them in person now.

The goal is to narrow that group down to three finalists, White says. Those three will each spend a day in Rochester meeting stakeholders and visiting schools. Each day will end with a community forum to give the public a chance to meet the candidates and weigh in on the selection process.

No dates have been scheduled for the forums, but White says the process is on schedule for the board to select a new superintendent by mid-summer, with a fall start date.

The board has used different approaches in prior searches. For instance, the search that resulted in hiring Barbara Deane-Williams was closed to the public, whereas the one for Jean-Claude Brizard was much more open. The public met him and had the opportunity to interact with him. The current search will be more like the latter, White says.

In some prior searches, White says, the candidates' identities were withheld from the public because some were still employed and wanted to keep their application confidential. The thinking at the time was that more strong candidates would apply if the process were less open. This time, however, the candidates were told that they need to be prepared to be "outed" in the selection process, White says.

White says he is looking for someone who has experience turning around low-performing schools or districts; knows how to engage teachers, parents, and the larger school community; and has worked in a diverse school environment.

Strong experience working with English language learners and special needs students is important, too, White says.

White says he disagrees with critics who questioned the board's previous choice in superintendents, pointing to their short tenure. "That's not a reflection on the board's ability to pick the right candidate," White says. "It's more about the candidate's ability to manage the pressures and challenges of the job. This is an extremely difficult job."

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