HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The search is on for a new Harrisburg School District Superintendent. For the past two years, the once-troubled district has been under receivership and officials want to pave a new path forward.

“The reality that we are having this conversation in March of 2021 is so very healthy and proactive,” said Regina Speaker, Montgomery County Intermediate Unit executive director.

Two words once unheard of in Harrisburg, now common. They’re starting the search more than a year in advance.

“So that we receive a high quality and a smooth and very positive transition and that we involve staff and the community in this process,” said Dr. Janet Samuels, Harrisburg School District’s receiver.

That community speaking up during the meeting, saying they want a candidate with experience in an urban school district, someone who is knowledgable and kind — and above all, transparent.

“We know that in particular in Harrisburg, that is going to be critically important, and it’s something that staff told us in an earlier session is very, very important to them,” said Beth Trapani, a school communications consultant.

Although they caution, privacy is also important in the search.

“The kinds of candidates that we’re looking for are most likely already serving in a leadership role in a school district,” Trapani said.

Meaning those candidates won’t want their current team members feeling abandoned. One qualified candidate who won’t be applying for the job is Harrisburg’s acting superintendent, Chris Celmer.

“It’s been an honor to be acting superintendent, but quite honestly, that was never the intent when we arrived in Harrisburg in July of ’19,” Celmer said.

The district is asking community members to fill out a survey about what they want to see in a superintendent, and the search team won’t post the position until they’ve given enough time for feedback about what to put in the description.

A candidate also won’t be offered the position until they have a formal introduction to the public.

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