Residents Give Input on Superintendent Search

Residents Give Input on Superintendent Search

Ocean City High School


The Ocean City School District is calling on the community for input into the selection and hiring of a new schools superintendent.

And on Tuesday night, about 15 people attended an open public forum at the high school, where they heard from the professional search firm Strategic Educational Advantage, or SEA, made up of Michael Kuchar, Frank Auriemma and Judy Rattner.

SEA was chosen by the Board of Education in the spring upon receiving the notification of former Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Taylor’s retirement.

The team also listened to what the residents and stakeholders had to say about what qualities they were looking for in a superintendent.

Although there weren’t many people in attendance at the forum, throughout the day Tuesday, SEA held scheduled meetings with several different groups of parents, teachers, students, union representatives and members of community.

The person they want to lead their district would be accessible, willing to communicate, attend games and gatherings and really get to know the community as a whole, they said.

Among other attributes they placed as a high priority were leadership qualities, integrity, the ability to lift up morale and to be attentive.

Some other topics were the strengths of the district and challenges facing a new superintendent.

“We hope the next superintendent wants to be involved in the town and know who runs the rec (recreation) department and the OCTC (Ocean City Theatre Company),” resident and teacher Mikenzie Helpenstine said.

Attendees said that mental health and wellness should be a main priority. People said they wanted to bring back a “family atmosphere,” and assure that there was more help for students who may be struggling in school.

School Board President Joseph Clark, standing, addresses the audience during the lightly attended forum.

Robin Shaffer, a local resident and candidate for the Board of Education, said that the district and the superintendent need to be cognizant of the fact that some students may have fallen behind during the COVID-19 pandemic when virtual learning was several days a week.

“Learning gaps occurred during COVID-19 and I want the superintendent to understand that,” Shaffer said. “Our kids are competitive with kids nationally.”

SEA members explained that they will compile a profile of what the community would like to see in a superintendent and work with the district to carefully create the profile, advertise for the position, and the Board of Education would go through the selection process.

“We develop a profile. We actively recruit. We advertise and we will interview everyone who applies,” Kuchar explained. “We thoroughly vet and then we present the candidates to the Board of Education.”

SEA is working with six board members who were selected for the superintendent search committee.

However, School Board President Joseph Clark, who attended the forum, pointed out that the process to hire a new superintendent will take some time.

“This process will be into next year. Part of the process tonight is what we will put in an ad,” Clark explained. “Tonight is setting the criteria. We are not just doing this in a vacuum.”

Resident Michael DeVlieger, a former city councilman, said when SEA compiles a list of candidates they should take into account the importance of a superintendent living within the district and to showcase the many great reasons to live in Ocean City.

“There will be sticker shock. People are underwhelmed by what they can buy here. Don’t let them get spooked,” DeVlieger said. “While you have to put money down to buy a home, you pay lower taxes. You can pay down your mortgage. You can’t pay down your taxes. When you get to the smallest pool of candidates, if they do the math it works in their favor to move here.”

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