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Lynn’s school superintendent search starts in earnest

LYNN — As the time for a new Superintendent of the Lynn Public Schools grows closer after Catherine Latham’s announcement that she will retire this summer, the Lynn School Committee listened to a presentation from the executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC), Glenn Koocher, who gave advice and options on the selection process.

The MASC offers help for school systems searching for candidates through consulting services which cost $9,500.

Koocher said the Lynn school system could be a preferable urban location for many candidates because of the city’s diversity. Also, the process of how the school budget goes through the mayor and city council’s approval can be favorable, as opposed to other systems.

“This school committee is well perceived from those outside of Lynn,” he said.

Another option for the city is to take advantage of free assistance, such as electronic distribution of the job vacancy to more than 1,400 possible candidates in the association’s database, and help organizing and putting together a search committee.

Some committee members, including John Ford and Lorraine Gately, asked Koocher about how important it is to hire a candidate with a doctorate.

“The only thing more overrated than lobster is a [doctorate in education degree],” he said. “Restrictions for doctorate degrees would rule out some of Massachusetts’ finest district superintendents.”

Still Koocher recommended the committee search for those with an advanced degree, but could add in the application that a doctoral degree may be preferred.

Member Jared Nicholson voiced concern that the MASC would have trouble helping multiple districts with their search, including Lynn, at the same time.

“It’s generally not a problem,” Koocher said. “The key is to get the process done as efficiently as possible in order to get the best candidate.”

Before the end of the presentation, Koocher also added a last word of advice, saying that some of the best search committees he has seen have the chair of the school committee on them — in Lynn’s case Mayor Thomas McGee — and are closely involved with the rest of the school committee.

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