Public can join focus groups in Peters Township School District superintendent search

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The Peters Township School District has kicked off its search for a new school superintendent, and the public is invited to participate in the process by attending focus groups tonight and Friday.

Sessions to gather input from the general public will be held at 6:30 tonight and from 8 to 10 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. Friday in the middle school auditorium.

"Focus groups are important to us," said Joseph J. O'Brien, executive director of the Chester County Intermediate Unit, which the district has hired to find its next leader.

At a forum Monday night aimed at gathering input from community leaders, Mr. O'Brien heard from the township police chief and others.

Chief Harry Fruecht said he was looking for a superintendent who would continue to build a good working relationship with the police department.

"I think the society we're in requires an excellent relationship between the district and police department," he said.

Marcia Bastyr of the Peters Township Educational Foundation was more blunt.

"I don't want to see an unavailable superintendent," she said. "I don't want to see an excuse maker."

Ms. Bastyr said she would value honesty above all else, even if it meant asking for tax increases or other unpleasant duties.

"At least the debate would be honest," she said.

Honesty was one of the themes Mr. O'Brien heard repeated throughout the day Monday, as he met with students, teachers and administrators to gather input. Good communication skills also were important to those he met with, Mr. O'Brien said.

Those sentiments were echoed by Brian L. Schill, executive director of the Peters Township Chamber of Commerce.

"We need a superintendent who is a community partner to leverage the collaborative relationship between local businesses as well as educational institutions and large corporations," he said.

The district began advertising for the position last month and hopes to find an ideal candidate by July to replace former superintendent Nina Zetty, who resigned in November to accept a job at Gateway School District.

Ms. Zetty was making $139,570 when she left. Joseph Dimperio is acting superintendent.

Mr. O'Brien said the district has received 10 applications so far; though the search is nationwide, officials hope to find a person in the region for the job.

"There's a perfect fit for this district and we have to find that perfect person," he said. "We're not going to settle."

Mr. Schill and Ms. Bastyr said they were glad everyone was getting a chance to air their opinions before candidates were interviewed.

"Now the community has some buy-in, some skin in the game," Mr. Schill said. "I applaud the board for doing this."

education - neigh_south

Janice Crompton: jcrompton@post-gazette.com or 412-851-1867.


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