Semi-finalists are currently being interviewed for the position.
QUINCY — Parents, teachers, administrators and students say improving equity, increasing diversity among school staff and expanding access to technology should be among the top priorities for the district as the school committee looks to hire a new superintendent.
The priorities were outlined in a report by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, which hosted 10 virtual focus groups and conducted a survey to learn what stakeholders feel Quincy schools does — and does not do — well. Nearly 1,000 people responded to the survey, including almost 500 parents and close to 100 students. Included in the report are suggestions for interview questions to ask potential superintendents as the search process goes forward.
Richard DeCristofaro, who was at the helm of Quincy’s schools for nearly two decades, retired this summer. Kevin Mulvey, his longtime assistant, is serving as the acting superintendent until a permanent replacement can be hired by the start of the new school year.
The school committee’s superintendent search committee has spent the week interviewing semi-finalists for the role. Semi-finalist interviews are not open to the public. Once three to five finalists have been chosen, they will be interviewed at public meetings. School committee officials said the board received 20 applications and are interviewing eight semi-finalists.
The report provided by the state association includes direct, though anonymous, quotes from virtual focus group participants. Many respondents said neighborhood schools with open enrollment are an asset, that Quincy’s faculty is among the best around and that special education services in the district are strong.
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In a new leader, residents said they wanted to see improved communication with parents, more emphasis placed on innovation, expanded access to technology and a more diverse panel of teachers and administrators. The report says there are “very few” preventatives of the African American, Asian, Portuguese speaking, Spanish speaking, and other language constituencies in the schools. One principal noted that it was typical to have as many as 30 or more languages being spoken at home by students in Quincy, the report said.
“People tend to want to hire the people they know, and the people they know are the people they grew up and worked with, and that isn’t representative of who is now living in Quincy,” one participant is quoted as saying.
Parents also raised the issue of equity, and said the same opportunities are not available at each school. Respondents “often” raised concerns with access to facilities, technology and other resources, the state association said, and called for a district-wide assessment of access to services, curricula, and resources.
Respondents were asked to rate the district in dozens of categories, on a scale of 1 to 5. Quincy schools ranked lowest in the categories of public relations, district goal-setting and staff evaluation. They ranked the highest in social and emotional well-being of students, creating a safe and supportive multicultural school community and quality of instruction.
The report also outlined the key traits that families and staff want to see in the next superintendent, including superior communication skills, a collaborative approach to leadership, emphasis placed on the mental health of students and someone who can commit to the position for the next five to 10 years.
To view the full report, visit quincypublicschools.com.
Reach Mary Whitfill at [email protected]