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New Canaan Wants Superintendent With Experience

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Integrity, classroom experience and the ability to create a positive learning environment are some of the things New Canaan residents want in the next superintendent of New Canaan Schools.

Cooperative Educational Services, a consulting firm assisting the district in its search for the successor for the retiring David Abbey, recently released results of community discussions and an online survey. According to the 13-page document, 654 people responded to an online survey and 108 people attended community focus groups to gauge what was most important in the search.

Integrity is a paramount attribute in a new superintendent for 57 percent of respondents. Also, 53 percent want someone who has good people skills and 41 percent prefer a leader who is an effective communicator.

Nearly 430 people or 65.7 percent of online respondents said attracting and retaining high-quality teachers and administrators is a goal, issue or challenge facing the district. More than 52 percent listed enhancing the district’s ability to teach students how to compete in a global economy as a goal.

Also, 70 percent said the next leader should have experience as a principal, while more than 65 percent say being a classroom teacher is vital. Just 13 percent said they wanted someone with business or private sector experience.

Creating a positive learning environment and culture was an important asset for a future superintendent, according to 62 percent of the online responses. More than 47 percent want someone with a record of attracting and retaining high quality faculty, while 41 percent want someone concerned with maintaining a culture of continuous improvement.

Hazel Hobbs, chairwoman of the New Canaan Board of Education, said she’s thrilled with the survey results as it shows that New Canaan residents are concerned about education. “It just shows how much the people of New Canaan care about it — and it’s not just the parents,” she said.

The survey and community responses were used to create questions that will be asked of candidates when interviews begin in mid-March, Hobbs said. The school board is expected to hire Abbey’s successor in April.

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