'Charismatic, empathetic, approachable': Shelton school board seeks next superintendent

The Shelton Board of Education offices.

The Shelton Board of Education offices.

Contributed photo

SHELTON — Accessibility and trustworthiness are musts for the next school superintendent, according to most of those responding to a survey on the best characteristics for the district’s next permanent leader.

Mary Broderick, senior search consultant with CABE, presented the Board of Education with a school superintendent leadership profile based on information provided by 264 residents either through interviews, focus groups or an online survey.

“The successful new superintendent will have a strong personality — and that thick skin — while also being open-minded, charismatic, empathetic, approachable, and visible” the Shelton Public Schools Superintendent of Schools Leadership Profile prepared by Broderick stated.

“The leader will appreciate the impact of a presence in the schools— even teaching, volunteering or otherwise engaging in classrooms — helping staff feel known and competent,” the report states. “A people person who remembers people’s names (especially students’), this leader will quickly be known to the students, teachers, staff, and community.

“This successful leader will be dedicated to Shelton and want to stay around to see ‘the roots grow’ and people flourish as a result of their collective efforts,” the report further stated.

Board of Education Chair Kathy Yolish said the superintendent application submission window closes Aug. 28. Yolish added that Broderick will review all the applications and then select the ones that best meet the newly accepted leadership profile.

“All the applications will be viewed by the board, so we are aware of all the candidates,” Yolish said.

The Board of Education will be meeting with Broderick in about three weeks to finalize the procedures.

“Once we make our selection to be interviewed, (Broderick) will set up dates for the actual interview of candidates we’ve expressed interest in,” Yolish said. “We are hoping to have a final candidate by mid to end of October.”

Beth Smith has held the superintendent’s post on an interim basis since Chris Clouet resigned at the end of February.

Smith, who has guided the board through a difficult budget process with millions of dollars in required reductions and the COVID-19 pandemic that shuttered all school buildings in mid-March and forced distance learning for students, has not said if she will be applying for the permanent position.

The breakdown:

Broderick’s report shows that most survey respondents seek a superintendent who “builds trusting relationships with students, staff and community members.” In all, 62 or 32 percent of the respondents selected this choice as the top “desired expertise.”

Respondents’ second choice for desired expertise was “communicates and collaborates transparently in schools and community,” with 37, or 19.1 percent, followed in third place by “shares vision of excellence and innovative instruction,” with 33 votes, or 17 percent.

The top three choices garnered 68 percent of the votes by respondents, the reports states.

Fourth place was “developing a good working relationship with the Board of Education and city officials,” with 20 votes, or 10.3 percent. Residents have long voiced concern about the relationship between the Board of Education and superintendent and Mayor Mark Lauretti.

The desired qualities of a new superintendent, according to respondents, are, first and foremost, “being accessible, approachable, and visible in schools and community.” That garnered 52 votes, or 26.8 percent.

A superintendent who keeps students’ growth and wel-lbeing as the primary focus was a narrow second with respondents casting 51 votes, or 26.3 percent. In third place was being honest and trustworthy, with 39 votes, or 20.1 percent.