LEWISTON — Lewiston School Committee Chairman Francis Gagnon announced Tuesday a firm has been hired to help the committee conduct a nationwide search for the school district’s next superintendent.

Superintendent Bill Webster announced in June he is retiring July 1, 2019.

Gagnon announced Tuesday that BWP & Associates of Libertyville, Ill., will help find the city’s next superintendent.

The School Committee decided to hire a professional search company for several reasons, Gagnon said.

“There were three different ways” to come up with superintendent candidates, he said. “We could do it ourselves, but there’s not enough time in the day to perform all the duties. Or we could look at Maine School Management for a search within Maine. We had a workshop with them. There would be a cost to that as well.”

The School Committee decided it would not cost more to go with the firm to conduct a nationwide search. He expects the search will cost between $15,000 to $25,000.

“There are several organizations like this,” Gagnon said. “BWP helped Portland find its superintendent (Xavier Botana). We heard great results from them. That’s how it sparked our interest” in BWP.

Gagnon said Debra Hill, managing director for BWP & Associates, has pledged transparency will be key in keeping the community informed through every step of search process. When the timeline is finalized, there will be opportunity for staff, students, parents and the community to participate.

Some community members have already asked, ‘Why don’t you hire (from) within?’ Gagnon said.

“That could very well happen,” he said, but it will not happen without a nationwide look.

If a local applicant is hired, the community will know the person measured up to national competition and Lewiston will have the best person for the job, Gagnon said.

Gagnon said he expected the search will take about six months. He expects the next superintendent will be hired sometime this winter, possibly in February.

Webster was hired in 2010 by the Lewiston School Committee to replace Leon Levesque.

Webster, 68, has said he has been “blessed” to live and work Lewiston.

By the time he retires, he said, “I’ll be in my 70th year. As much as I enjoy my work and enjoy Lewiston, my colleagues and friends, I want to make sure I do what I want to do while I’m in good health.”

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Lewiston School Committee Chairman Francis Gagnon, left, said Tuesday an Illinois firm has been hired to help the committee find a successor to Superintendent Bill Webster, right, who is retiring next year. (Sun Journal file photo)