A breakdown of the nearly 160 applicants for Portland’s superintendent job

Tonight in executive session, the Portland School Board will whittle a pool of 159 applicants to replace departing Superintendent James Morse down to a group of semi-finalists, with help from search consulting firm PROACT.

That closed door meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Casco Bay High School and could go as long as three hours. After that — potentially starting at almost 9:30 p.m. — PROACT Regional President Steve Kupfer will hold a workshop with the board on how to best interview those semi-finalists and how the interview panel should be made up. Looks like a late night for School Board members.

Fortunately for Portland, it seems the job has attracted a big pool of applicants, upping the odds there are some gems in there somewhere.

Portland Superintendent Search Committee Chairwoman Sarah Thompson

In a statement issued today by the district, board member and chairwoman of the Superintendent Search Ad Hoc Committee Sarah Thompson had this to say:

We have attracted what looks to be a large and talented group of applicants from all over the country.

In a minute, I’ll run through the schedule of milestones in the hiring process, but first, here’s a breakdown of the nearly 160 candidates currently in the running, as provided by the district in an announcement:

Thirty-four percent of the applicants currently are working as superintendents, and an additional 12 percent are assistant superintendents. Sixty-eight percent of applicants work for districts smaller than Portland (less than 6,000 students), 9 percent work for districts of roughly the same size and the remaining 23 percent work for larger districts. Just over a quarter of the applicants have current or past ties to Maine.

The flipsides of some of those numbers include the fact that nearly three quarters of the applicants have no ties to Maine, and more than half are currently neither superintendents nor assistant superintendents.

Those aren’t deal breakers, of course, as at least one wide-ranging survey of Portlanders indicated an interest in bringing in someone with experience in urban settings (more urban settings can be found outside the state of Maine than in), even if that person was coming in from a curriculum coordinator-type position instead of a superintendent job. So perhaps the number of more interest to the School Board tonight will be that group of applicants from districts of the same size or larger than Portland, a pool that makes up 32 percent of the candidates.

On to the dates to remember in this search process.

According to the district, semi-finalist interviews are slated for April 28 and May 1, and finalists will have follow-up interviews on May 14 and 15. The week of May 21 is set aside for finalist site visits and the board’s goal is to have a new superintendent named by mid-June, in time to step in for Morse, whose last day is June 15 (Morse is taking a new job in New Hampshire).

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.