BANGOR, Maine — The process of hiring a new superintendent for Bangor public schools has been underway for weeks now and there are still months to go until a final decision. Bangor School Committee members are asking for as much participation as possible from the community, made possible in part by community forums happening the week of Feb. 22.
The Bangor Community Superintendent Search Forum is taking place via Zoom and a Facebook livestream at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23. The forum is hosted by the Bangor School Committee and Maine School Management Association and is designed to give people a chance to express what characteristics and qualities they're looking for in the next superintendent to help shape interview questions.
The workshop to develop interview questions is expected to take place next week after all of the community data has been collected. Another workshop, meant more specifically for teachers, administrators, and staff members, took place Monday night.
During Tuesday's forum, participants will divided into breakout groups to come up with answers to the following four questions:
- What areas of expertise and dimensions of district leadership/management are most important in the next superintendent?
- What do you consider to be the most important personal qualities in the next superintendent?
- What do you consider to be the two (or more) most significant strengths of the Bangor School Department?
- What do you consider to be the most important issues or challenges facing the Bangor School Department?
Community members participating will also be given the opportunity to share any other concerns or feedback -- either via the Zoom chat bar or the Facebook comment section. Carin Sychterz, the chair of the Bangor School Committee, says she wants to emphasize how important community input and this decision in general are when it comes to life in Bangor.
"Good schools mean that we bring parents who can potentially afford to build and buy really big houses that help spread out our tax space, or remodel homes," Sychterz expressed. "Good schools mean that those parents choose to stay in our community when maybe they were only going to come here for a couple of years."
Last month, more than 600 people, from parents to students to school staff members to general community members, responded to a superintendent survey. Results indicate people want to see a strong leader take on this position, who will highlight communication in the age of social media and make visiting classrooms a priority. People also want to make sure academic excellence in Bangor continues and mental health, equity, and school safety are prioritized. Having diverse input helps to foster a richer environment in classrooms.
"If you missed your chance to participate in the previous email survey, this is it," Sychterz said. "This is a wonderful opportunity to have your voice heard; to have your concerns heard. Everybody has their own experiences in the schools, and I can't advocate on somebody's behalf, if I don’t know what that experience is."
Sychterz says as of last week, the committee has already seen 11 candidates interested in the superintendent position, six of whom are from out of state.