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Search for Principal Pavia's Replacement Continues

The field of candidates is narrowing, and a decision is expected in early April.

The field has been narrowed in the search for a replacement for outgoing New Canaan High School Principal Tony Pavia.

Pavia, who will step down after this school year, announced Thursday that he will become the principal at in Stamford in the fall.

Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Steven Swerdlick told Patch that the , named in Dec 2010, expects to begin meeting on or about Mar 15, with somewhere between six to eight candidates. 

The NCHS Principal Search Committee is comprised of Board of Education members, school administrators, teachers and parents. The members are: Hazel Hobbs, Jenny McMahon, Mary Kolek, Steve Swerdlick, Darlene Pianka, Greg Macedo, Larry Sullivan, Michelle Luhtala, Heidi D'Acosta, Jen Lee, Tim Haag, Jim Zambarano, Jane Mitchell, Steve Vehslage, Linda Rosenthal, Jay Egan, Alan Sneath, Vivian Birdsall, Barb Achenbaum, and Maria Weingarten.

Swerdlick credits Eliza Holcomb, the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) senior consultant who was brought in to work with the committee, with helping the committee narrow down the field. 

In advance of meeting the applicants, Swerdlick said he’s happy with the way the process has gone so far.

“We have a number of good candidates, at least on paper," he said. "We’ll see how they do in the interview process."

Calling the position of high school principal, “the hardest spot to fill in any school district,” he acknowledged that the job requires a very particular skill set.  

Focus groups, which were held in late January, were attended by more than 100 people, including faculty, parents and students. Swerdlick said the committee got “good feedback” from the groups, which he characterized as very positive and thoughtful.

He said that for the most part, the groups, and the 166 responses received via a web-based questionnaire, confirmed the committee’s identified priorities.

He said a strong candidate for the position would need to demonstrate a “child-centered” philosophy that valued the “whole child.” Their goal is to identify someone who can “sustain the culture of values already in place at the school.” In addition, the successful candidate must be a  “thoughtful decision maker” who can work in collaboration with faculty.

Swerdlick said that Holcomb directed her efforts primarily to the 167 Connecticut school districts, targeting sitting principals.  He explained that candidates from outside the state are more difficult to attract saying that the, “dilemma of recruiting for a public school system,” is that “retirement programs are tied to the statewide system.” Without getting into specifics, he did confirm that there were both male and female applicants included in the remaining group.

Initially, the target date for naming Pavia’s replacement was April 1. Swerdlick said that he expects that is still a reasonable goal, though he acknowledged that an announcement might come a week or so later.

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