April 17, 2012

More than 150 apply to be Portland schools chief

By Kelley Bouchard kbouchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — More than 150 people have applied to become superintendent of the city's public schools.

The search committee has received 159 applications - nearly 16 times more than the 10 applications received when outgoing Superintendent Jim Morse got the job in 2009.

“We have attracted what looks to be a large and talented group of applicants from all over the country,” said Sarah Thompson, a School Board member who heads the search committee.

The board is expected to choose a pool of semi-finalists in executive session tonight, according to a news release. The board will interview semi-finalists on April 28 and May 1, followed by finalists on May 14 and 15. Board members will visit finalists' school districts during the week of May 21 and announce the new superintendent by mid-June.

Morse announced last October that he would retire when his three-year contract expired at the end of June. Morse's annual salary is $131,500.

In February, Morse accepted a superintendent's position in New Hampshire, where he will head the Oyster River School District.

When Morse took the job in Portland, Maine's largest school district was recovering from a major budget crisis that led the former superintendent to resign.

In announcing his plan to leave Portland, Morse said he had no idea how "broken" the school district was when he became superintendent, but he had done the "hard work of transformation" that would allow the district to excel when he "passes the baton" to his replacement.

According to the news release, 34 percent of the 159 applicants are superintendents and 12 percent are assistant superintendents. Nearly 70 percent work in districts smaller than Portland, which has about 7,000 students, and nearly 25 percent work in larger districts.

About one-quarter of the applicants have current or past ties to Maine.

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