The Essex-Westford unified school district is seeking volunteers for an advisory committee to screen candidates for the new district’s superintendent, according to board chairwoman Martha Heath.

The committee will be comprised of staff, parents, students and residents, including a mix of constituents from the three communities — Westford, Essex Town and Essex Jct.

Liz Subin, a board member on the communications task team, said the board’s outreach is intentional, adding the three communities know best what type of leader fits in best with the new district.

“We don’t want to ignore that voice,” Subin said.

Heath estimates the committee will spend about 40 hours on the process, including several full days of candidate

interviews.

Two long-term Vermont educators are leading these efforts: Brian O’Regan, who served as consultant for the RED study committee, and Dan French, the project manager who’s guiding the merger process between the Essex Town School District and the Chittenden Central Supervisory Union.

The board plans to post the job opening in October and has set an application deadline of early November.

Current superintendents Mark Andrews or Judith DeNova, from ETSD and CCSU, respectively, will be invited to apply for the position, Heath said, yet the board felt it should expand its search.

“We think the school district deserves the best person who’s interested,” Heath said. “We didn’t want to predetermine.”

The search committee will begin its work with a 4 p.m. meeting on November 3. Four days later, the committee will choose candidates to interview.

The first round of interviews is tentatively scheduled for November 16-17, and the second round will take place around December 5-6. Committee members are expected to be present from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on these days.

Anyone interested in applying or nominating someone for the committee should submit a letter of interest to Heath at marth.heath@board.ewsd.org, or via mail to the CCSU administrative offices at 51 Park St., Essex Jct. by Monday, Sept. 26.

The board plans to finalize the committee by October 7.

After the committee makes its recommendations, the board will conduct interviews the first week of January, hoping to make its decision soon after.

The new superintendent will have less than six months to prepare for the unified school district’s commencement of operations, slated for July 1, 2017.

Though Essex and Westford voters approved the merger in November 2015, the board announced this February it would hold off on its superintendent search since hiring for superintendents usually falls between January and May, Heath said then.

Since the board wasn’t officially sworn in until its Jan. 26 organizational meeting, Heath said the timeframe wasn’t realistic.

The three communities will have a first chance to share their vision of the ideal candidate during a forum planned for later this month.

Subin is excited to get the process started.

“I feel great hope in what this new district can do toward outcomes for kids,” she said.