LEWISTON — The search for a new Lewiston High School principal is set to begin in early December with the appointment of a hiring committee.

The committee will be composed of community members, administrators, teachers and possibly a School Committee member.

“This hire is critical to our community as a whole,” Superintendent Jake Langlais wrote in a memo to the committee.

Langlais left the principalship this past summer to take the superintendent job when Todd Finn resigned. Former Principal Gus LeBlanc returned to the high school as interim principal. His one-year appointment will end June 30.

Langlais wants to start the process early to ensure a good field of candidates, he told the committee Monday night.

His timeline includes:

·       Posting the position in early December and allowing six to eight weeks for applications.

·       Appointing a hiring committee to be involved in the interview process in December.

·       Reviewing the pool of candidates in January or early February and selecting applicants for interviews.

·       Conducting a second round of interviews that includes introductions and students in January/February.

·       Gathering input to make a recommendation to the School Committee for a July 1 start.

Langlais noted that this timeline is subject to change or flexibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He recommended that the School Committee chairwoman or her designee sit on the hiring committee, which he said would include a dozen people, maybe more.

School board members debated Monday night whether it was appropriate for one or any of them to sit on the hiring committee.

“My concern is that when we’re looking at high-profile roles, School Committee members might not be given the context to make informed decisions,” member Kiernan Majerus-Collins said.

He asked that all School Committee members be given access to resumes of all finalists so board members could understand the hiring committee’s choice, or even disagree with it.

“Otherwise, we’re being asked to vote in the abstract,” he said. “If we are not going to do anything other than rubber stamp the administration, then we don’t need access to documents.”

Other members said they favored appointing one person from the School Committee.

Vice Chairman Bruce Damon said that person could be charged by the School Committee with keeping its members informed.

Member Lynnea Hawkins said she would trust the hiring committee to choose the best candidate.

“It might be nice to ask the hiring committee for clarification about how it got to this one, but that’s what having a member on the committee could do for us,” she said.

Member Ron Potvin questioned why a hiring committee was necessary and warned that it could turn into a popularity contest, with the most charming person and not the most qualified being chosen.

He said he did not see why a School Committee member should be on the hiring committee.

“We hired you as superintendent,” Potvin said to Langlais. “You are the person who has the ball and that comes with the responsibility of hiring administrators. I don’t understand the purpose of these committees.”

Langlais said hiring committees bring different perspectives to the process.

“It has different angles and different stakeholders around who will be the final candidate,” he said. “It’s very complex.”

The School Committee left the decision of whether to appoint one of its members to a hiring committee in Langlais’ hands.

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