School Committee interviews with the three superintendent finalists selected by a screening subcommittee was held beginning at 4 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 15 in open session at the W-H library.
The finalists are: Sharon Schools Assistant Superintendent for Information Systems and Administration John M. Marcus, a North Easton resident; Lincoln (R.I.) High School Principal Kevin J. McNamara of Greenville, R.I.; and WHRHS Principal Jeffrey Szymaniak of Pembroke.
The search began with a list of 19 applicants, School Committee Chairman Bob Hayes reminded the Committee at the Wednesday, Feb. 7 meeting.
The Committee planned to send representatives to conduct site visits to the three schools between Thursday, Feb. 8 and Monday, Feb. 12 ahead of the interviews. But the entire committee could not go on site visits without requiring the posting of a public meeting.
“These candidates … are currently interviewing with other districts as we speak,” noted subcommittee and School Committee member Michael Jones. “I’d hate to lose any candidate by going any longer [with the process].”
Hayes confirmed that some of the three finalists are, indeed, finalists in other districts.
“I would rather candidates come here and meet with groups, whether it’s teachers, whether it’s families or principals — that kind of thing — I’d rather they come here and meet with them than me go to their schools,” Committee member Robert O’Brien Jr., said.
“I think both [ways] have value, but this is a committee decision,” Hayes said.
“I think it’s most beneficial to us to have those interviews next week,” Committee member Kevin Lynam said. “I don’t want us to postpone this into school vacation and to push it back to the week after that. The deadline of next Wednesday should dictate our decision.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ruth Gilbert-Whitner countered that site visits were really an opportunity to glean important information.
“We’ve done both,” she said. “It think for a position of this importance, you need to do both. … I’ve learned from going to site visits that you learn a tremendous amount about the candidates by what that person has you look at, who the people are you talk to, what you see and what you don’t see — and it is extremely helpful.”
Having candidates is equally important — providing a real sense of their inter-personal skills. Site visits are just as important with inside candidates as for those from other districts, she added.
“If they want the job badly enough, they’re going to make it work,” Gilbert-Whitner said.
With the passage of a transfer of funds from free cash at the Monday, Feb. 5 special Town Meeting in Hanson, work will begin over February vacation — Feb. 19 to 23 — at Indian Head School to contain and abate asbestos in the area where work on classrooms and bathrooms will be worked on later.
“As we know, there’s asbestos at Indian Head — we’ve dealt with that for a long, long time — that will be the beginning of the project which then follows through to the next special Town Meeting which will be held in the town of Whitman on [Monday] March 12 at 7:30 p.m. for the allocation of the remaining funds,” Gilbert-Whitner said. “We’re very grateful to the folks of Hanson.”
The district will also be fine-tuning timelines over February vacation in order to develop a more exact schedule for work to be done in subsequent weeks.