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City of Tonawanda residents, attending a Wednesday night public forum on the search for a new school superintendent, aired their opinions on the necessary abilities and skills, knowledge, personal qualities and experience of an individual in the district's top post.

Many of the characteristics, from high moral character and commitment to the community to experience in such areas as labor negotiations and fiscal planning, are similar to those suggested four years ago during the last search process.

The current search was launched when Superintendent James. C. Holler announced plans to retire early next year.

The search process is expected to take about six months, according to Donald A. Ogilvie, superintendent of the Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

Ogilvie, who is in charge of the search process, reviewed a proposed time line that shows a new superintendent in place by the beginning of February.

The appointment would be approved by the School Board in early December with two months allowed for relocation, said Ogilvie.

Less than 20 persons attended the forum, but several said they would be willing to serve on a screening committee to review applications.

They also may interview candidates, if given a green light from the School Board.

In response to a question from the audience, Ogilvie said there would be no residency requirement for members of the screening committee because staff members, some of whom do not live in the city, can participate.

"They are district stakeholders," he said.

Some speakers commented that the district should set a residency requirement for the superintendent, but Lynn Heiss disagreed. "You really limit who you can hire," she said.

Ogilvie said he would take the opinions of persons attending the forum and responses from a recent community survey and present them to the School Board "in readable form" at the Aug. 7 board meeting.

At that meeting, trustees will discuss a profile and qualifications for superintendent candidates as well as the parameters for terms and conditions of a superintendent contract.

Later in the month the board is expected to approve a brochure advertising the vacancy.

Ogilvie said the brochure will be sent to the 38 BOCES districts in the state, to Western New York educational institutions that prepare administrators and to individuals responding to recent advertisements in three professional publications.

He said the brochure will describe the district and the community and set forth the "minimal expectations" for the position. Ogilvie told The News that he expects anywhere from 20 to 40 candidates for the position.

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