Timeline of high school principal search, committee members announced

Marblehead’s Abbot Hall. Photo by Spenser Hasak

Superintendent of Schools John Buckey during last week’s School Committee meeting, gave an update on the search for a new high school principal, providing a hiring timeline. 

Buckey announced that there will be 19 members in total on the search committee: Administrators Lindsay Donaldson and Matt Fox; Marblehead High School (MHS) faculty and staff members Christine Chaykowski, Michael Giardi, Gina Hart, and Susan Shatford; MHS parents Kerry-Frances Bourne, Melissa Kaplowitch, Cindy Schieffer, and John White; MHS students Audrey Bathurst, Jeremy Sorkin, David Alpert, and Lucy Sabin; Special Education Parent Advisory Council Rep. Jennifer Jackson; Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) Rep. Nikkia Bell; and School Committee member Tom Mathers. Buckey and Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Nan Murphy are also a part of the committee.

Buckey was pleased with the amount of interest to join the committee from parents and students, and he said there were not enough spots open for every interested party. 

“I will say we had more than quadruple the number of parents interested in being on the search than we unfortunately had slots for, and we had more than triple the number of student interest as opposed to the number of slots we have available,” Buckey said at the Feb. 16 meeting.

The search committee is one of the biggest that the district has ever put together, and Mathers asked “How effective is a search committee with nineteen people?” 

Buckey responded that the committee’s size is due to a combination of Marblehead Education Association (MEA) contract requirements and his priority to ensure that a number of different voices are heard. 

“It is larger because by MEA contract they have a set number of representatives, and for a high school principal search by contract it is four,” he said. “In my experience I like to have parity on that so I wanted four parent reps. I think it’s important to have students on a search and so I added four students. This is a larger group, but I believe it will be a representative group and I look forward to working with them.”

The first search committee meeting will take place on Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. at Marblehead High School, with the deadline for candidates to apply coming this week.

On March 7, the committee will select the semifinalists for the position and interviews will be conducted the following week on March 13.

Finalists will be chosen on March 20, and on the 27, they will visit the district for community forums, leadership interviews, faculty meetings, and a student panel.

Buckey will make his final decision during the first week of April, and on April 10, the new Marblehead High School principal will be announced. 

In other business, MHS Junior Tyler Earp presented an update on the his Eagle Scout project to build a greenhouse at the school, and METCO Director Caja Johnson provided an update on the program. The committee also had additional discussions on the Fiscal Year 2024 budget.

At the beginning of the meeting Student Rep. Yasen Colon also gave an update on the high school’s clubs and activities, and Village School Principal Mandy Murphy announced that the Bournedale sixth grade field trip would be making its return.

Though the school district is going through a number of drastic changes, Buckey said he was proud of the work that faculty and students are doing throughout the school system.

“I think you’ve heard tonight a lot that the committee and community have to feel really good about what’s happening in our public school system,” Buckey said. “The state of the district is very strong and I think that we have a lot to celebrate and a lot to be proud of.”