School Committee members discussed plans for finding a new superintendent for Gloucester’s public schools when they meet Wednesday.
The theme of the evening: things take time.
“We are not rushing through this,” clarified Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, an ex-officio committee member by nature of her position as mayor, during the three-hour meeting.
Since Superintendent Richard Safier announced plans for his retirement at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year, the School Committee has been working to find either a long-term or interim replacement.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of this educational community both as superintendent, and as a resident of the larger community,” Safier wrote in a letter to parents on his retirement.
The speed of the search doesn’t bother committee members as they seek to make well-informed decisions about who Safier’s replacement will be.
“I want to make sure there is a focal point and there is no rush and we aren’t going crazy,” Romeo Theken said. “No offense to Safier; we aren’t pushing him out and we aren’t pushing him in.”
“We love him,” Romeo Theken continued, nodding to Safier who sat directly across from her.
Next Wednesday, Jan. 15, the School Committee will host a Governance Workshop where Dorothy Presser, field director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, will work with personnel to discuss aspects of the search: the development of an online survey of the school community, the superintendent’s job description, formation of a focus group, and the creation of a brochure about Gloucester.
While Presser was not available for a comment on Thursday, Massachusetts Association of School Committee Executive Director Glen Koocher explained that Wednesday’s meeting will brief School Committee members on what decisions need to be made to move forward in the search.
“They will discuss things like selecting a search committee, how that will work, what they want to say in the electronic and print media, and what is the timetable,” Koocher said.
The meeting is open to the public.
School Committee Chairman Jonathan Pope clarified that in this workshop, personnel will discuss how parents, community members, and organizations that are interacting with the schools can get involved in the focus group.
“I would like to have someone from my administration on that (search committee),” Romeo Theken said.
Pope and School Committee Vice Chairperson Melissa Teixeira Prince emphasized that members of the Board of Health, and the Public Works, Police and Fire departments will also need to be present in the focus groups.
Teixeira Prince said the committee will know by May or June if there is a viable candidate.
“We have six months and that is a great timeline,” Teixeira Prince said. “It gives us time to pause and reflect.”
If no one stands out, Teixeira Prince explained, the committee will consider an interim superintendent and start over in the search.
“There is a plan for the plan not working,” Teixeira Prince confirmed.
Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or [email protected].
IF YOU GO
What: School Committee meeting for governance workshop focusing on superintendent search.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m.
Where: Conference room, School District Offices, 2 Blackburn Drive.