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Harford school board enters final phases of superintendent selection

Harford school board enters final phases of superintendent selection
The Harford County Board of Education expects to select a new superintendent to succeed outgoing Superintendent Barbara Canavan within the next two to three weeks, according to board President Joseph Voskuhl. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

The Harford County Board of Education expects to select a new superintendent to succeed outgoing Superintendent Barbara Canavan within the next two to three weeks, according to board President Joseph Voskuhl.

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The board has selected two finalists, Sean Bulson and David Ring, to replace Canavan, a veteran HCPS educator who has been superintendent for five years.

Both have been interviewed board and were introduced to the school community and the general public in separate forums held last week. Each also toured three schools selected by the board.

Bulson, a University of North Carolina System official and former county superintendent in that state, toured schools and participated in his community forums Thursday. Ring, a former president of the Institute of Notre Dame in Baltimore and a former superintendent in Delaware, toured schools and met with the community May 15.

Monday evening, the board held a closed meeting in Bel Air for the purpose of “negotiations,” according to Voskuhl. He said he did not expect the board would take any action that night.

According to Voskuhl, once the board has settled on its choice for the next superintendent following consultations among the members, it would next have to negotiate salary and benefits, as well as possible relocation expenses, that would become part of a four-year contract.

Neither finalist lives in Harford County, but both said last week they would move to the county if they are hired.

Following the last of the community forums Thursday, Voskuhl said the board could take a vote on its final selection and the contract during either of its next scheduled public meetings June 4 and June 11.

The board’s goal has been to have a new superintendent in place before Canavan retires June 30.

The two finalists, Bulson and Ring, were narrowed down from a field of 21 applicants.

At the beginning of the search process, the board held public meetings seeking input about what the community would like to see in a new superintendent. Some people have continued to comment on both the process and desired attributes and background during subsequent regular board meetings.

Public input will be considered as the board makes its final choice, according to board members.

Voskuhl, who moderated the community forums, asked attendees to fill out comment cards afterward, and many did.

Consultants with the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, or MABE, have been working with the board since its superintendent search began in early February, shortly after Canavan announced her retirement.

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Bill Middleton, MABE’s lead consultant, and superintendent search consultant Terry Greenwood were at both forums last week and were making notes as each finalist answered questions.

The Annapolis-based organization has provided multiple services during the superintendent search, such as helping to facilitate public input, preparing an application based on the school board’s criteria, gathering and submitting returned applications to the board and helping to vet applicants.

MABE is being paid $29,000 for its services.

Board members “have to put their heads together and come up with a decision; we’re just here for support, basically,” Middleton said during a break in Thursday’s forum.

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