The Everett School Committee has voted to engage the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) to help in beginning the search for a new permanent superintendent of schools.
Chair Tom Abruzzese said the Committee voted at its meeting on Monday to get the process started, and while there are some disagreements on the timeline for getting a new school leader, everyone is ready to get started.
“I think we want to get started as soon as possible,” he said. “The letters have gone out to them and we’re waiting for guidance. We have to really get going on this. It has to be advertised. We have to get together a job description…It would be pointless to go back and get the last job description from 30 years ago. It’s all changed. So, we’re really entering uncharted waters here.”
Abruzzese said he is glad they chose to work with the MASC, and they have capped any expenditure for the search at $30,000. He said MASC is very experienced, but he also said Everett is pretty far behind when it comes down to time.
“They have assisted in hundreds of these searches,” he said. “Although every community is different, there are certain basic stuff you have to look for. At the same time, we’re sort of behind and really, really want to get going on it. We’ve just started.”
Abruzzese is of the opinion that the process could play out quickly and they could hopefully have someone in place by the next school year, perhaps even before the end of this school year.
“Hopefully the process is more streamlined and quicker than we anticipate,” he said. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed for having someone by the beginning of next school year. It would be great if we could complete it before the end of this school year, but that may be too optimistic.”
School Committeeman Frank Parker said he would rather wait another year to make the final decision, staying with Interim Supt. Janice Gauthier and putting a new person in place by September 2020.
“My opinion is it’s going to be a long process,” he said. “It’s February and we haven’t engaged with MASC or had any applicants. In the meantime, there are plenty of other districts that have a head start, including Chelsea. I would advocate having a permanent superintendent by the beginning of the 2020 school year…I’m very, very comfortable with the job that Janice Gauthier, Kevin Shaw and Charlie Obremsky are doing. We have to be cautious, methodical and cautious. We don’t want to be searching for another superintendent in three years. Some really good superintendents go from contract to contract.”
He also said he felt it would be better to wait until the investigations are concluded before bringing in a new leader.
“I don’t think we can start going out and getting candidates until the independent investigation is over,” he said. “That give us an inkling of what’s really going on and when it comes time to make that decision, the candidate would know what the deal is prior to accepting.”
The process would likely include forming a search committee that is made up of a cross section of the community. That committee would do the initial interviews and weed through all the applicants (they are expecting up to 150 applicants) with the help of the MASC. The search committee would then recommend a small number of finalists.
That would transition into public interviews of the candidates by the School Committee. A final decision would come after those interview.
Parker said one aspect that could be introduced is the idea of forming Focus Groups made up of certain specific groups – such as a focus group of teachers or students or parents. From those groups, he said, even more public input could be gathered during the early stages of the search.
Abruzzese said by all accounts, the job is a desirable one for any superintendent candidate.
“We have new schools, a new high school and a vocational school just opening,” he said. “There are just so many positives about the position and I think you could ease into the position and quickly get up and running. At the same time, the idea from outside likely is this job might need a full re-build and nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a very attractive position for any candidate, I think.”
Parker said he hopes to welcome 14 candidates that are now licensed within the district, as well as a good crop of candidates from outside the district.
•In other School Committee business, the members approved a new contract for interim Supt. Janice Gauthier. Abruzzese said Gauthier will only be the superintendent now, and she will be looking to hire a Director of Curriculum.
Abruzzese said he had lobbied for her to only take the one job, and didn’t feel a superintendent should be trying to handle two jobs.
Gauthier would be going from $145,000 per year to $190,000. •Additionally, Attorney Bob Galvin of the South Shore has been signed on as the new School Committee attorney, replacing James Spencer Tobin, who resigned in December as the long-time attorney. Galvin originally represented the Committee on the special investigation, and now is the permanent attorney as well.