Home » Marblehead’s Screening Committee breaks ground on superintendent search

Marblehead’s Screening Committee breaks ground on superintendent search

The Screening Committee gathered Monday night to take the first steps in identifying an interim superintendent of schools to replace Dr. John Buckey.

The subcommittee was formed by the School Committee on the advice of the New England School Development Council. It is composed of School Committee Chair Sarah Fox, School Committee member Alison Taylor, Acting Superintendent Michelle Cresta, Marblehead mental-health clinician Alison Carey, and Parent Teacher Organization President Sarah Magazine.

NESDEC Executive Search and Planning Associate Carolyn Burke assisted the Screening Committee in understanding the policies and procedures of the superintendent interview process. Burke emphasized that the Screening Committee’s role is to narrow down the finalists for the superintendent position, before those finalists go in front of the School Committee, which makes the final hire.

The open interim position has been met with interest from 11 applicants, and committee members will review the initial applications to decide who they want to meet with for an interview. The interview structure will begin with a 30-minute organizational meeting among committee members to prepare for the incoming candidates. Each candidate interview will be one hour long, followed by a 15-minute break between each.

The Screening Committee must select from a list of more than 12 themes provided by NESDEC to base its questions off of. The themes include accomplishments and challenges, accountability, budget, collective bargaining, communication, conflict resolution, curriculum development, decision-making, professional development, planning, problem solving, technology integration, and student services. The early identification of top themes by the committee included budget, communication, and curriculum development. Each individual interview will include between eight and 10 questions. 

Magazine noted one theme important to her that the NESDEC list omitted.

“I think what’s missing on this list is culture,” Magazine said. “What I’m thinking about in terms of culture is change management, communication, decision-making, conflict resolution, it’s all of these things.”

In addition, Carey expressed a desire to focus on each candidate’s feelings on the importance of special education. Fox explained what general qualities she is looking for in the interim superintendent, regardless of what questions they are posed with.

“I am looking for a leadership style and a leadership personality,” Fox said. “Because you can’t teach that and someone can’t learn that.”

The Screening Committee will review the 11 applicants before finalizing its interview questions on Wednesday. Fox aims to have the finalists identified and ready to be brought forth to the School Committee by the second week of October.

“This is an interim position, however we’re really not in a position to just sit still like statues for six months or whatever,” Fox said. “We need someone that really understands what’s going on here and really wants to help move us forward even if that’s on a temporary basis… The progress isn’t temporary for us.”