Author Archives: Elizabeth Scifres

Focus Group Executive Summary

In late February, focus groups were conducted with the following stakeholder groups:

Cape Elizabeth High School,
 Cape Elizabeth Middle School, 
Pond Cove Elementary School,
 Cape Elizabeth Town Councilors (3), Senator Rebecca Millett, Cape Elizabeth District Leadership Team, Cape Elizabeth School Board

Each of the focus groups was asked the same three (3) questions:

  • 1)  What are the three (3) most important leadership qualities you would like to see in the next Superintendent of Schools?
  • 2)  What are the three (3) most significant strengths of the Cape Elizabeth School Department?
  • 3)  What are the three (3) most important issues facing the Cape Elizabeth School 

Participants were also asked for comments. In parenthesis are the number(s) of individuals who agreed with the proffered comment.

Leadership Qualities:

Reviewing the results, which are remarkably similar between and among the various groups, one of the most important leadership qualities would be that of a good communicator. The new superintendent must be able to listen, assess and evaluate district initiatives, ensure that disparate opinions are considered and stay the course previously charted. There was consensus around keeping the momentum moving around the Strategic Plan and working diligently to help focus resources and efforts on key priorities. Staff felt strongly that the individual needed to be transparent and able to articulate clearly the vision for the district. An important quality was one where the new superintendent would be an advocate for staff and students.

A second set of qualities necessary for the new superintendent would be the “soft” or “EQ” skills necessary to connect with individuals in the community. Comments proffered noted that the new superintendent should be approachable, transparent, supportive and personable. An individual who is able to build consensus around a commitment to continuous improvement of instruction. While participants noted that they would like a strong leader with a vision for the Cape Elizabeth School Department, they are also looking for someone who is kind and can serve as an effective bridge between the school board and staff. Visibility in the schools and community is important. Confidence and the ability to take risks would also be welcomed. Someone who is open minded and willing to work with everyone.

Lastly, an individual who is able to bring people along and help them see the value in proposed changes. All focus groups want an individual with central office or Superintendent experience who is highly knowledgeable about current best practices and research as it relates to education.

Significant Strengths of the Cape Elizabeth School Department:

As with the first question, the themes here are remarkably similar between and among the various groups. Individuals responded that the School Department is well thought of, committed to excellence and has a very strong reputation. Programs are highly regarded and there is a complement of a highly trained professional staff. Supportive parents are also a significant strength. Students come to school prepared to learn.

Most Important Issues Facing the Cape Elizabeth School Department:

Again, the respondents were remarkably similar with their answers to this question. Morale, trust issues between and among the various levels of administration, e.g. building administrators, central office administrators and the superintendent and concerns regarding a lack of flexibility or willingness to consider other ideas was evident from all survey data. Many of the individuals who responded were concerned about the budget and potential staff reductions. Communication concerns surfaced. One of the board members said that individuals were beset with “change fatigue”. Several respondents suggested that follow-through was important and ensuring that relevant professional development was provided for staff. Being consistent was a theme that emerged as an important issue.

School Board to Hire Interim Superintendent

Dr. Craig King has withdrawn his candidacy for the position of Superintendent of Schools in Cape Elizabeth.   The School Board has begun the process of hiring an interim Superintendent to serve during the 2016 – 2017 school year.


The School Board will begin the Superintendent search process again next winter.  It is not unusual for a school department to need more than one cycle of the search process to find a good fit. The School Board takes its charge of finding the right match for our district very seriously and is committed to hiring the best person it can to lead Cape Elizabeth Schools.


The board wishes to thank everyone who participated in this search for their efforts.


Please look for further email updates from the board in the coming weeks.  All updates are posted on the Cape Elizabeth School District website, as well as our Superintendent Search website.

Candidate Visit Set For April 27, 2016

The School Board has invited Superintendent candidate Dr. Craig King to visit our district on Wednesday April 27.  Dr. King is currently Superintendent of Maine RSU 10.  Previously he was Principal of Mt. Ararat High School for nine years.  Before that Dr. King served as a Jr-Sr High School Assistant Principal then Principal  in Mississippi.  His teaching experience includes both elementary and high school positions internationally and in Mississippi.  He also teaches education courses for the University of Maine.
We have only one candidate visiting our district because the other finalist, Steven Bailey, has withdrawn himself from consideration for the position of Superintendent.  Although we now have one candidate, this visit is not a formality.  Wednesday will be a day-long interview with various stakeholder groups.  The board will be gathering feedback from everyone with whom he meets.  Dr. King will start his day at Town Hall, meeting with Central Office administrators and staff, followed by Town Council members and the Town Manager.  From there he will have coffee with a few parents,  representatives of the Cape Elizabeth Education Foundation, and board members from all three Parents Associations.  Dr. King will visit all three schools, having student-led tours where possible, as well as meet and greet sessions with staff.  Building and department administrators will then have time to meet with the Dr. King.  He will end his day with the School Board.
The candidate’s visit to Cape Elizabeth is an important part of the search process.  The School Board thanks everyone who participates in this district visit and values all input it receives.

School Board Announces Finalists

April 11, 2016
The Cape Elizabeth School Board is pleased to announce two finalists for the position of Superintendent of Schools.  Those two candidates are Steven Bailey and Dr. Craig King.

Mr. Bailey is the Superintendent of the Central Lincoln County School System / AOS 93.  Previously he served as Assistant Superintendent and Curriculum Director in South Portland.  His history includes principalships in Exeter, NH, South Portland, and Veazie, ME.  Mr. Bailey began his teaching career in Veazie, Maine.  He has a Master of Education Degree as well as Certificate of Advanced Studies, both from the University of Maine at Orono.

Dr. King is the Superintendent of Maine Regional School Unit 10. He previously served as Principal of Mt. Ararat High School.  His history includes a principalship and an assistant principal position in Mississippi.   Dr. King’s teaching career includes an elementary position in an international school and a high school position in Mississippi.  He has a Master of Education Degree as well as a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, both from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Both candidates will be in Cape Elizabeth during the week of April 25 to meet with students, staff, parents, and community members.  The School Board is currently setting up a schedule for each candidate’s day in the district.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Advisory Screening Committee, Interview Committee, and my fellow School Board members for the intensive, thoughtful, and demanding work that has gone into this search.  Each representative brought careful consideration to the tasks at hand, being careful to honor all input from the various focus groups and surveys.  Every voice was heard, honored, and weighed as we moved forward.  Although we aren’t done yet, together we have reached a milestone in this process.  Thank you.

Elizabeth Scifres
Chairperson, CE School Board

March 11 Update

An update from your School Board Chair:

It’s been about a month since the last update, and a lot has been accomplished in our Superintendent Search.

Our consultant has completed survey and focus group sessions with staff from all three schools, administrators, Town Council members, the School Board, and local legislators.  For students, parents and community members that haven’t already done so, there is still time to take the community input survey (  This valuable information from a variety of sources will shape our search as we move forward.
The Cape Elizabeth Superintendent position was advertised broadly in print and online media, within the state of Maine and nation-wide.  The recruitment phase lasted for one month, ending on March 8.
Tuesday night, at its regular business meeting, the School Board appointed members to the Advisory Screening Committee.  You might be wondering how that committee came together.  Teachers at each school participated in a nomination and voting process facilitated by their principal.   Each principal then sent the name of his/her building’s teacher representative to the School Board.  The administrators chose amongst themselves for their two representatives to the committee.   Parents and community members interested in serving on the committee submitted applications to the School Board.  The board endeavored to choose parents and community members with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, including representation of parents of children in all three schools.  The goal was broad representation of the schools and community.  The School Board expresses its gratitude to all those willing to serve.
The Advisory Screening Committee members are: School Board members Michael Moore, Barbara Powers, and myself, Mike Tracy and Greg Marles from the District Leadership Team, teachers Sarah Harrington, Stephen Price, and Rosemary Grinn, Amy Stanley and Kimberly Carr representing parents, and community members Jim Clark and Carolyn Smith.  The committee got right to work with a training session Wednesday night, and will soon be screening and ranking applications.  At the conclusion of that work, the Advisory Screening Committee will give its recommendations to the School Board Interview Committee.
The School Board will appoint members to the Interview Committee at a Special Business Meeting on Tuesday March 15, directly following the budget workshop.  The Interview Committee, made up of the entire School Board, two administrators, a staff member from each school, and a Special Education staff member, will conduct the first round of interviews during the second half of March.
The second and final rounds of interviews will happen throughout April, conducted by the School Board.  We are still on track to hire a Superintendent in May.
All news and updates are posted on the school district website ( and the Superintendent search site (
Thank you for your continued support and engagement in this important search for our district’s next leader.

Elizabeth Scifres

Chairperson, Cape Elizabeth School Board

Community Input Survey

The School Board seeks input from parents, students, and community members to inform their Superintendent Search.  This survey, along with feedback already collected from school faculty, staff, and administration, town council members, and local legislators, will provide valuable guidance to the board.  The survey is open until Thursday March 10, 2016.

A call for applicants for the School Board Advisory Screening Committee

At its March 8th business meeting, the School Board will appoint members to the Advisory Screening Committee. This committee shall be made up of three School Board Members, two administrators, three teachers, two parents, and two community members.

The Advisory Screening Committee will participate in a training, then read and rank Superintendent candidate applications. Upon completion of the ranking process, the Advisory Screening Committee will forward its recommendations to the School Board Hiring Committee.

The School Board Hiring Committee will conduct all interviews.

The anticipated time period during which the committee will meet is mid March (likely but not limited to the weeks of March 7 and March 14).

Parents and community members interested in serving on this committee should email the School Board Chairperson, Elizabeth Scifres ( Applications should include:

  1. Why you are applying
  2. What skills/talents you bring to the work
  3. Current/previous service to the town or school district

The deadline to apply is March 1, 2016.