Board considers reissuing request for bids
By Jeff Simms
A month after issuing more than two dozen Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to employment firms as part of its search for a new superintendent, the Beacon City School District has only received two responses.
School system officials issued the RFPs — 25 in all — on May 12. The request, a five-page document detailing the various services the district is seeking, was posted in newspapers and sent to search firms with the intent of reaching candidates in New York and beyond.
The RFP requires that agencies must have managed at least five successful superintendent searches in the past five years, with at least three of them in New York state. In addition to detailing a number of ways that the firm would assist the school board in identifying, interviewing and screening candidates, it includes a four- to six-month timeline, with the hope that a new superintendent would be named by Jan. 1.
The deadline for proposals is June 15. To date, the only responses have come from the Dutchess County Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), which conducted the district’s superintendent search in 2011, and McPherson & Jacobson, LLC in Omaha, Nebraska, which, despite the requirements of the RFP, has not worked in New York state. In 2011, after the Dutchess BOCES-led search, the Beacon school board hired former Fort Lee, N.J., superintendent Raymond Bandlow, who lasted just nine months before resigning in July 2012.
The current vacancy was created when Barbara Walkley resigned in January. By doing so, she became the sixth superintendent, not counting interims, to leave the position since Vito DiCesare retired in 2006.
Ann Marie Quartironi, the district’s finance chief, was named interim superintendent and has filled that position as well as her original duties in the five months since. Quartironi has said she does not plan to apply for the permanent position.
During their meeting on June 6, school board members discussed whether to reissue a modified RFP or attempt to work with one of the two respondents. Vice President Bill Zopf asked his colleagues if the respondents are “so far below our criteria that we don’t want to consider them at all, or do we want to explore further with either one of those?” While noting that he liked the proposal from McPherson & Jacobson, he expressed concern that the firm has not worked in New York.
“I don’t want to discount them yet, but I also don’t want to say that they’re my choice,” Zopf said.
Board member Christine Galbo questioned whether the timeline and New York requirement led to the poor response rate.
“If you put so many filters in that you get nothing, maybe you need to take some of them out and maybe you’ll get more of a response,” she said. “We should modify the RFP and send out another RFP, because I don’t like either one of them. We should make it as open as possible, so we have some more to consider.”
Others suggested the district could seek feedback from some of the firms that didn’t respond. The board agreed to go that route and will discuss at its June 20 meeting whether to reissue the RFP.
Board member Anthony White has asked twice in recent weeks for the board to also consider putting its legal contract out to bid. On Monday, his motion to initiate that process was defeated, 6-3.
Several board members stated prior to voting on June 6 that the move might be more appropriate after the new board is seated in July. Newly elected members Meredith Heuer, Antony Tseng and Michael Rutkoske will join the board then, replacing Galbo, board President Melissa Thompson and Tracy Antalek Everett.
The board’s legal counsel, the firm of Shaw, Perelson, May & Lambert, has been in place for at least nine years, Thompson said. After a number of contentious meetings prior to Walkley’s resignation, some district residents asked the board to consider replacing the firm.