The superintendent of the four Tri-Town school districts is retiring after 10 years.
The official word on Dr. Doug White’s impending retirement set for June 2020 was announced during the joint meeting of the Tri-Town School Committees on August 26, kicking off the conversation on how best to start the search for his replacement.
White called the upcoming school year one of big transitions as several new faces step into administrative positions and the districts continue the search for a new business administrator once Paul Kitchen leaves his post in the upcoming month.
School Committee members reviewed materials left over from the prior superintendent search a decade ago, although regulations surrounding the Request for Proposal (RFP) process have changed relative to the selection of a consultant to assist in the search. An RFP is no longer required to solicit quotes from competing consultants, a bonus for committee members eager to accept White’s suggestion that they should start the search process sooner rather than later.
“The further you wait, the longer you go, the further you push that out,” White said. “And if you have any glitches, you’re going to get closer and closer to the start of another school year.”
The goal now is to have someone for the position who meets all the qualifications by the end of January 2020.
Right away the school committees voted to form a small committee consisting of the four chairs from each district school committee to solicit quotes from hiring consultants and form a list of the desired qualifications and experience they wish to see in their next superintendent.
Old Rochester Regional School Committee member Jim Muse (Mattapoisett) suggested the districts consider starting the search internally for candidates that might qualify for the job, an approach he says would save time and money in the process of replacing White.
“…It would behoove us to establish the criteria and see if those … people are already on our radar and not from some unknown state who are interested … before we go to a full-fledged outside process,” said Muse. “We don’t have to go across the country to take applicants.” Muse continued, “If we find that we don’t have somebody … we could still leave the process open….”
Muse also emphasized that the members of the school committees are the ones who will select the final candidate and that the committees aren’t required to hold a public opinion session on the matter.
ORR School Committee member Heather Burke (Marion) in response suggested, “Even though … we are the body that decides, given the nature of a regional school district, we do need to solicit the input from teachers, towns, general public, parents – things like that just to make it as inclusive a process as possible.”
The ensuing vote was to allow the four chairs to hold a special meeting on October 9 at 6:30 pm in the junior high school media room and to allow any other committee members to join them in the discussion. From there, they will solicit quotes from hiring consultants and make suggestions for a small search committee to set the criteria for the new superintendent and eventually narrow down the pool of prospective candidates.
“No matter what we do, we’re going to make an informed decision,” said Muse.
White affirmed that funding for a hiring consultant had been allocated from each of the four districts’ fiscal 2020 budgets.
The next regularly scheduled joint meeting of the Tri-Town and Old Rochester Regional School Committees is scheduled for September 26 at 6:30 pm in the media room at ORR Junior High School.