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Business group wants to help choose school boss

August 12, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer

Members of a Hagerstown-area business organization are asking that they be allowed to participate in the interview process for the new Washington County schools superintendent, saying they could add expertise to the process.

But B. Marie Byers, the president of the Washington County Board of Education, said she believes bringing groups such as The Greater Hagerstown Committee into the search sacrifices the confidentiality of candidates who apply for the job.

Bob Cirincione, chairman of The Greater Hagerstown Committee, Inc., said members of the organization are used to hiring people for high-level positions and jobs that involve large budgets.

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Members of the committee represent some of the largest companies in the county. If committee members are allowed to help interview superintendent hopefuls, they might be able to detect strengths and weaknesses that the board would not see, said Cirincione.

The committee said it realizes the final decision rests with the school board.

"We're not educators, and we don't pretend to be. We're just offering that resource," Cirincione said.

Although Byers would not say whether she thinks the offer will be accepted, she said the board's consultant in the search has emphasized that confidentiality of candidates is very important.

Potential candidates tend not to apply if they believe their names may be released, said board member Andrew R. Humphreys. He said that candidates run the risk of getting pressure from their current employers if their identities are known.

"That's not the kind of atmosphere we want," said Humphreys.

"I can appreciate that. All we did was offer our services," said Michael G. Callas, one of 10 business people who signed a letter from the committee to propose the idea.

Board member Doris J. Nipps said including the committee in the interview process keeps lines of communication open between schools and the business community, which is important for the success of programs like Partners in Education.

"I think it will be good to have their input. There's some real intelligent people on there," said school board member Robert L. Kline.

Byers said the school board has invited The Greater Hagerstown Committee to a luncheon on Aug. 22 to explain the superintendent's search process.

The new superintendent will replace Wayne Gersen, who left the school system in July to head a school system in New York. Gersen earned $90,200 as superintendent.

Board members said they hope to select a new superintendent by late October.

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