Applications being accepted for new Harford schools superintendent

The Harford County Board of Education has begun accepting applications for the position of superintendent of schools, which will become vacant June 30 when Superintendent Barbara Canavan retires.

The school system announced the start of the application review process earlier this week.

The school board has obtained the services of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, or MABE, to conduct the search for a new superintendent.

First consideration application reviews will end on April 9, according to this week’s announcement. Interviews will be conducted in April and May. The position will remain open until filled and starts July 1.

Information regarding the superintendent search can be found on the Harford County Public Schools website, www.hcps.org/boe/superintendentsearch/.

The web page includes a link to the application on the MABE website, as well as a summary of the criteria and characteristics the board is seeking in a new superintendent.

On the application, candidates are asked if they have a Maryland superintendent’s certification.

“It is the responsibility of candidates to provide proof of superintendent certification from Maryland State Department of Education before final interviews,” the application states, while also noting that “under specific circumstances Maryland may recognize superintendent certification from other states.”

Applicants are required to submit three references and letters from two of them. The person selected will be required to file a financial disclosure statement within 30 days, according to the application.

The application contains six attributes of an “ideal candidate:”

A leader who will work with the board in creating a dynamic long term vision for the system that includes opportunities for all students focusing on technical, arts, vocational and academic instruction;

An administrator with proven budget and financial skills who can articulate needs to all stakeholders and advocate to secure, balance and allocate the needed and appropriate resources to meet system priorities;

An experienced and innovative leader who listens empathetically, values and responds to input from staff, parents and community and is committed to a collaborative and transparent approach to problem solving;

A person of high ethical and moral character who respects, motivates and empowers staff and encourages accountability and continuous improvement, while accepting responsibility for the results;

A successful educator with strong diplomatic skills who understands the unique characteristics of diverse communities and works with stakeholders to steward a vision of racial and cultural equity; and

A child centered communicator who will be active and visible in the community and will build bridges while passionately advocating for students.

Applicants also are required to submit a brief essay about the first two criteria, 400 words or less, “on how the characteristics relate to your experience and background.”

In discussing the superintendent search process earlier this year, board members said they would have someone on board by the time Canavan is due to retire.

Canavan has worked for Harford County Public Schools for 45 years. She became interim superintendent in 2013 and received a full four-year contract beginning July 1, 2014. She announced her retirement in early January.

The school board is paying MABE, essentially a trade/lobbying organization for the state’s 24 local boards of education, $29,000 to aid in the Harford superintendent search and hiring.

In public statements, Harford Board President Joseph Voskuhl has insisted MABE’s role is one of a “consultant” only, and all decisions on applications, candidate screening and interviews and the final selection will rest with the nine board members.

Questions regarding the application process should be directed to William T. Middleton, lead consultant, MABE Superintendent Search Service, at 410-841-5414 or wmiddleton@mabe.org.

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