It’s been so long since Chelsea has sought out a new superintendent that there isn’t even a current job description.
For so many years, Boston University (BU) appointed a superintendent as it ran the public schools for decades, and when current Supt. Mary Bourque came into the role, it was long-decided that she would succeed former Supt. Tom Kingston – the last BU appointee.
Now, for the first time in 30 or 40 years, the School Committee will be tasked with finding a new leader for the public schools.
“This is all new to all of us,” said Chair Rich Maronski. “It’s even new to the School Department. They don’t even have a job description for superintendent. They have to create one now, which tells you how long it’s been.”
Bourque said the Collins Center was most recently used by the schools to hire Monica Lamboy, the business administrator who took the place of Gerry McCue. She said it was also used to hire City Manager Tom Ambrosino and former City Manager Jay Ash.
“The first couple of steps will go slowly, but from the middle of February to May it will be intense,” she said. “I can’t be involved in it then. I’ll be more of the logistics part. There is a lot of community input, but it’s a School Committee decision. Chelsea hasn’t had a search since before BU…One interesting point is we don’t have any internal candidates. In Revere, Supt. Paul Dakin was succeeded by an internal candidate, Dianne Kelly. None of our internal candidates feel they are ready to move up. Because of that, it’s going to be an outside candidate.”
Maronski, Supt. Bourque and the rest of the Committee met with the Collins Center last Thursday, Jan. 10, to go over the timelines and parameters of the upcoming search.
“It’s all structured by the Collins Center,” he said. “They are looking at the May 2 School Committee meeting for us to vote on this. That would be the first Thursday in May. I believe they will want to get it done by June because that’s a very busy month for us. I think the Collins Center is pretty good. They had all the dates worked out and structured for us. That helps.”
The notice of a job opening will go out on Feb. 8, and focus groups of teachers, staff, parents and community groups will form about the same time. They will be charged with coming up with a candidate profile that will be used by a Screening Committee to review all of the applicants.
The Screening Committee will be selected by the School Committee on March 7, and it will be made up of appointed members, including City Manager Tom Ambrosino, parents and teachers.
They will conduct private interviews of candidates in April, and they will forward a public list of finalists to the Committee around April 4. Community forums and public interviews will take place from April 22 to 25.
A contract is proposed to be signed by May 10.
Bourque said she will remain on through December 2019 so that she can mentor the new person and help transition them into the “Chelsea way.” Since it will be an outside candidate, she said that will be critical. “Chelsea has a very strong reputation and coming in with a solid transition plan with the exiting superintendent to help them is something people will like,” she said. “At the same time, it is an urban district and it is a complex district. Some people don’t like that, others do.”