The Vineyard Gazette – Martha’s Vineyard News


The next Superintendent of Martha’s Vineyard Schools may already be working in the district, ready to take the reins when Dr. Matthew D’Andrea leaves at the end of next month.

Or the all-island school board can choose its next chief administrator from a pool of as-yet-unknown external candidates, following a formal search conducted while an acting superintendent holds the position.

“There’s no required process you have to go through to hire a superintendent,” said Jim Hardy, superintendent search consultant for the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC), at an all-party committee meeting. island on Wednesday which drew nearly 140 people online. attendees.

Mr. Hardy was invited to answer questions from committee members on how to fill Mr. D’Andrea’s position.

“You don’t even have to have a process,” Hardy told committee members. “If you were so inclined, you could just appoint the next superintendent and be done with it. This is within the authority given to you by law.

Other avenues for selecting a new superintendent, he said, are to advertise the position to school district employees, hoping to fill the position from within, or to form a search committee and to advertise the position.

“It’s what we usually call intergalactic, look under every rock search,” Hardy said. “The whole process can take an average of five or six months.”

State law prohibits the district from operating without a superintendent, so the committee must have someone in the position by July 1, Chair Kate DeVane said.

Last week the committee voted to offer Deputy Superintendent Richie Smith the role of Acting or Acting Superintendent once Mr D’Andrea leaves for his new job at Wareham.

Mr. Smith did not agree to take the position, but said at Wednesday’s meeting that he would be happy to serve the remaining two years of Mr. D’Andrea’s term as superintendent.

“I appreciate last week’s flattering offer, but the reason I don’t want to act and the reason I’d rather not be acting is, by definition, those two terms mean temporary,” Ms. .Smith.

“During . . . arguably the most crucial time in our system, I don’t want to deal with all of these things as a temporary superintendent,” he said.

“I want to go through the ability to talk with members of our community, to work with our staff, to work with our parents, to work with our children, with them knowing that I am the superintendent. It gives this system the stability it needs,” Smith told the committee.

He will also assist the district in the process of finding a superintendent to take over in two years, and is also ready to help with the transition, Smith said.

“I would love to move on and finish my career, but I would support any new superintendent you brought in after two years of letting me be the full superintendent,” he said.

The Deputy Superintendent’s comments came after a series of public testimony in his favour, starting with that of Mr D’Andrea.

“It’s an easy decision for you,” Mr. D’Andrea told the committee. “Richie Smith has been by my side for seven years . . . He’s tied to the island. He’s got a kid in the system . . . He knows the people. He knows all the moving parts. He knows the neighborhood and the neighborhood know him.

Teachers, parents and others also spoke for Mr. Smith.

“He listens to us. He’s an amazing communicator. He’s got so much experience,” Edgartown kindergarten teacher Debra Grant said.

“This island is in crisis, and why wouldn’t we do this?” she added.

Parent Meaghan Morris had a similar thought.

“I just can’t imagine why we wouldn’t support Richie in this process. He has been a huge supporter of all of our students from kindergarten through high school,” Ms. Morris said.

Tisbury School principal John Custer, who served on the search committee that brought Mr D’Andrea to the district in 2015, reminded the school committee that Mr Smith was the other finalist for the highest position.

“Over the next seven years he served, I would say, with great skill,” Custer said. “We have an incredible opportunity ahead of us.”

Edgartown School’s head cook, Gina DeBettencourt, added her approval.

“He’s been there for all of us and even showed up during the pandemic to help us pack lunches,” Ms. DeBettencourt said.

“And he always answers his phone,” she added.

The committee will decide on an action plan in an online meeting on June 2 at 6:30 p.m., Ms DeVane said.

Also on Wednesday, the committee ratified the district’s contract with its restaurant workers’ union and adjourned to an executive session to discuss negotiations with the teachers’ union.

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