Matthew Poland, the head of the school board, has revealed publicly that he does not plan to seek a third year as chairman when the board elects new officers in February.
“I told the mayor today that I will not stand for re-election as board chairman, and so this is going to be someone else’s job to lead the board of education in Hartford,” Poland said at Thursday night’s meeting of the city council’s education committee. He will continue to serve the remainder of his four-year board term, however.
“I need to move on and do the work I need to do with the library,” said Poland, who is CEO of the Hartford Public Library. (Serving as school board chairman is a volunteer post.)
Here’s a video recording of the meeting, courtesy of Achieve Hartford. Poland’s specific comments begin around the 43:20 mark.
UPDATE: In a letter to the board dated Friday, Poland says he will not seek another term as chairman. “I am an optimist at heart so I know that together, fully committed to our children, we can make a real difference.” More here.
Maribel La Luz, Segarra’s spokeswoman, told Cityline today that “once there is a complete board, the mayor will express his choice for chairman.” Segarra plans to appoint a new member to the board in the coming weeks to replace Cherita McIntye, who moved out of state.
Poland officially joined the board on Feb. 7, 2012, when he and four other mayoral appointees took their oath of office. At that same meeting, the board voted to make Poland its chairman. Poland kept that leadership position last February when the board held its annual election of officers, and has overseen a number of newsmaking decisions, including the board’s vote last June to reject Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s request for a contract extension.
During Thursday’s meeting, Poland said Ray and Associates, the Iowa search firm chosen to find Hartford’s next schools chief, is finalizing its contract with search committee co-chairmen Jose Colon-Rivas and Robert Cotto Jr.
Poland also told council members that the search panel has been working on a list of competencies that will be required of the new superintendent, who would take over on July 1. He said that list has not been finalized, and that, generally, the committee’s “proceedings are confidential because it’s a personnel matter.”
One of the traits the committee will be seeking is someone with a proven record of being a “collaborative” leader, Cotto said.
Following the tenure of former Hartford schools chief Steven Adamowski, who shook up the district with his reform plans, Poland said, “the next leader needed to be a builder, and that’s what we need to find.”
Later in the meeting, after Achieve Hartford! executive director Paul Holzer asked about attracting candidates to Connecticut’s capital city, Poland had this to say: “I think that Hartford, wherever we recruit, has a difficult time. The nature of what people hear about our city often limits candidates. And I think what we have to do is make sure we’re clear about both the local challenges that we face and that we want someone who will take that on. This is not a job where you come and … you’re comfortable all the time. You better not be comfortable. Right? You want to be challenged all the time. We have huge, huge mountains to climb.”
Poland also warned at the meeting against releasing — or “leaking” — information on applicants until the finalists are formally announced.
“Once you start getting the leaks of, ‘This superintendent has applied, that superintendent has applied,’ oftentimes good people will disappear,” said Poland, who is no longer serving on the search committee. New school board member Beth Taylor took his spot.
“So we do have to be very cautious about that until we have the final candidates,” Poland said. He added that the community will have the opportunity to meet the finalists before the board’s vote.
At the start of Thursday’s meeting, city Councilman David MacDonald — Hartford’s former school board chairman when Kishimoto was hired to lead the district — emphasized the importance of the search.
“I would dare say that the selection of the superintendent is the most important vote that you will take as a board of education member,” MacDonald said. “You need to select someone who will be a good partner with you.”