The process has only just begun, but the Norwalk Board of Education is sticking with its promise of finding a new superintendent by April 15.
The board announced Jan. 2 that it has agreed to form a committee, which will include community members, to handle the administrative aspects of the search. PROACT, a search firm hired recently by the board, will interview board members one on one over the next week or so to formulate a profile of the ideal candidate.
There had been disagreement over whether to form a committee and what the committee's duties would be. Chairman Mike Lyons, who was not present at the meeting, called the search committee a compromise in a statement read by Vice Chairman Artie Kassimis. The committee of three board members and six community members will not interview candidates, but will handle the public outreach process and the development of the profile, which will be approved by the entire board. Mike Barbis, Rosa Murray and Kassimis will be on the committee, and community members were to be announced at a Wednesday special BOE meeting.
Lyons said the compromise "preserves the board's control over the screening and interview process, while allowing enhanced participation of the community in the search process."
Also at the meeting, the board approved a change in policy that will allow members to respond to comments during the public speaking portion of the meeting, provided it is done in an orderly way.
A revision to the policy regarding minutes drew a prolonged discussion about transparency, ending with a request from Heidi Keyes that meetings be videotaped -- as they are currently being held in the Common Council chambers, which has video equipment -- and shown on public access television. Mayor Richard Moccia said he will check on the progress of upgrading the equipment with recently obtained grant money, which he said he thought included $2,000 to train people to use the equipment.
"I think that will make it transparent, to have it all be televised,"Keyes said.
Minutes available to the public will now have all pertinent documents attached, including contracts that have been approved. They will not include verbatim transcriptions of all speeches made by members.
Sue Haynie voted against that part of the revision. "I don't know why we would restrict the public -- this is the only way the public really knows what we are saying -- in a very arbitrary and vague way. What do you mean by verbatim?"
Interim Superintendent Tony Dadonna discussed the formation of a safety committee that will meet twice a month to review security procedures at the schools.
Moccia reminded him that the city's resources are behind the effort and money would not come just from the Board of Education budget.
"There are no dividing lines when it comes to the kids' safety, and our staff's safety, too," he said.