NEWARK – Education officials narrowed the search for a new superintendent down to four candidates this week.
Jonathan Cook, president of the Worcester County Board of Education, said the board has selected two internal candidates and two from outside the county for a second round of interviews. Officials hope to make a final decision before the end of the calendar year.
“This has been a rigorous process and I’m very pleased with how it has gone to date,” said Cook, who will be completing his 12th and final year on the school board this fall. “It has been a professional, well managed process. As I have told everyone throughout this process, people are watching Worcester County and we want to be proud of what we do here at all times.”
Interested candidates had until Aug. 15 to submit applications for the superintendent position. The board of education received 12 applications, a number Cook was pleased with considering the fact that they were extensive, including essays, certifications of credentials and the like.
“This is not like applying for a summer job on the Boardwalk,” he said.
The board ranked and scored the applications and selected five candidates to interview. Those interviews took place last Saturday, according to Cook, and four individuals will be asked back for a second round of interviews.
“This is an extensive effort and we have a detailed application process to follow,” Cook said.
Before the final selection is made, Cook said a group of stakeholders from the community will have access to the finalists. Letters were sent this week to these individuals, who include elected officials, business owners and school system employees. On Sept. 26, 27, and 28, they will have the opportunity to meet the finalists and provide the board with their thoughts on the individuals.
“It’s important to get our stakeholders involved in this process,” Cook said. “This community cares a tremendous amount for our school system and they should be part of this process. If all goes as we expect we think we should have a decision definitely within our calendar year’s fourth quarter.”
Cook, who was involved in the superintendent hiring process that brought current Superintendent Dr. Jerry Wilson to Worcester County, said the same process — which is being overseen by the Maryland Association of Boards of Education — was being followed this time. Cook said it was simply too big of a task to be handled internally with no outside help.
“There are so many parts,” he said. “They have the expertise and knowledge to make sure the search is done correctly.”
Wilson, the school system’s current superintendent, announced in February that he would not be seeking a four-year reappointment. Wilson, who came to Worcester County from Colorado in 2012, indicated at the time he didn’t want to spend another four years on the Eastern Shore.
“When I looked at all the things that I want to do in life, I looked at those four years and realized that it was beyond the commitment I was willing to make,” Wilson told The Dispatch at the time. “We have grandchildren in Colorado who touch my heart deeply and my daughter is in Wisconsin, so our family is spread out across the country.”
Wilson agreed to a contract extension that will keep him in place until the end of the 2016-2017 school year.