Dr. Daniel French (courtesy photo)

Dr. Daniel French (courtesy photo)

The search for a new Milton superintendent is quickly gaining traction. Survey results are in, and first-round interviews are completed.

A screening committee of 12 community members interviewed applicants on Saturday, March 10 and is sending two or three candidates for second-round interviews with the Milton School Board.

“We have some good options,” search consultant Daniel French said last week.

The final candidates’ names won’t be released for confidentiality reasons, and the board interviews will occur March 19 in executive session, French said.

Milton Town School District can expect a new superintendent to be named by April 1. Current superintendent Ann Bradshaw announced in December she is leaving in June to be closer to her Massachusetts family.

French, a former Vermont superintendent and current school leadership program coordinator at St. Michael’s College, circulated an online survey to see what community members would like to see in Bradshaw’s replacement. About 380 people responded — 205 parents of enrolled students, 17 students, 134 district employees and 156 residents.

French found five themes throughout the survey results. First, the superintendent needs communication and leadership skills “to pull the organization together.”

Second, he or she must resolve conflict in a respectful and transparent way and genuinely relate to different types of people. Next, the new hire should foster trust with responsive communication and listening skills, respondents said.

Fourthly, survey-takers desire the next school chief to assess cultural dynamics and to envision the district’s future through collaboration, French reported.

During a time of significant change, French said the district needs a leader who will inspire others.

“It’s an important issue, because education is such a humanistic endeavor, that the function of inspiration cannot be underestimated,” French said.

French’s disaggregated data shows 72 percent of district staff, 73 percent of community members, 86 percent of students and 62 percent of parents said they want “a very different kind of candidate” than Bradshaw, and someone “who is ready to take the district in a significantly different direction.”

Milton’s superintendent position has seen high turnover in recent years, French noted, and many administrators work under provisional licenses.

The board hired French to provide “transitional services” for the new superintendent. This could include updating the new hire on status of district initiatives and hiring, former chairwoman Lori Donna said at the time.

Despite not earning the vote of confidence for re-election from constituents, Donna remained on the screening committee during last Saturday’s interviews. Her role changed from trustee to community member, leaving now-chairman Michael Joseph as the lone board member to conduct first-round interviews.

The new board, French noted, will conduct second-round questioning.

Other screening committee members included superintendent executive assistant Jennifer Saunders, data and assessment coordinator Tammy Boone, elementary school principal Bridget Gagne, second-grade teacher Hillary Schmid, middle school nurse Dorey Demers, high school co-principal Anne Blake, retired music teacher Gisele McRae, parents Christine Harvey and Sheila Beaulieu and community member Rhonda Stuart.

Last Friday, French also held two focus groups in the Milton High School library to gauge further community input. While 10 district employees attended the afternoon staff session, only three people showed to the community group — two of which were school board members.

Board newcomer Emily Hecker and retired educator Mary Martha Whitworth, who has to grandsons at Milton Middle School, relayed their thoughts to French.

Both expressed a desire for the new leader to foster a creative and inclusive climate.

Full survey results can be found at https://goo.gl/X9NaFd.