Another fumble: SC drops ball on superintendent finalists

24 Mar

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

The Peabody School Committee has selected three finalists as contenders to be our next superintendent, which begs this question:


Why didn’t the Peabody School Committee pick these guys instead?

What? Where Larry, Moe and Curly not available?

OK, so no intended disrespect to the three fine school administrators who our “brilliant” school committee members chose here following a “Nation Wide Search.” The finalists have excellent public education credentials, and congrats to them on devoting their careers to teaching kids in Somerville, Lynn and Gloucester.

And let’s face it, I wouldn’t complain if someone made me a finalist for a job which — with all benefits included — paid me more than $200K a year of taxpayer money.

But let’s be real here. The majority of this School Committee continues to be the gang that can’t think straight. I mean, considering the importance of this position, considering what it pays, and considering our dire need to finally retire a free-loading, mediocre “Interim Superintendent for Life,” we couldn’t come up with a more noteworthy Final 3?

None of the three has ever been a superintendent before, and with the challenges we face in our schools, the last thing we can afford to do is take a chance on someone who might become rookie-of-the-year.

“They all had good qualities and good potential, but my reservation is that … I want an experienced superintendent, and none of the people before us have ever been a superintendent of schools, not even in a small district,” said SC member Beverley Dunne, who did the right thing by objecting to advancing the three candidates. “I believe that’s a necessity to deal with all the moving parts of a district of this size. I just don’t feel confident that the people we’re moving forward have the necessary experience.”

And she’s 100% correct when you consider the size of our district, and it’s $70M budget. Also correct is member Jarrod Hochman, who joined Dunne in dissenting. As for most of the others on this elected board?

Well, I’ll start with the dumbest statements made the night the vote was taken to advance these finalists. Members Tom Rossignoll (who’s now seeking to bring his scary great public service talents to the city council as an at-large candidate), and Brandi Carpenter tried to tell us how it’s actually a good thing that the three finalists selected lack experience when it comes to running a large, very complex school district.

“The benefit is you get someone new and hungry for the job. They can grow into the position and hopefully stay for a long period of time,” said Rossignoll, talking as if we we’re hiring a college intern instead of a high-level school department chief executive.

A $190K base salary for having no experience? Excellent gig if you can get it!

The fact here is that this school committee fumbled again. There were just six interview candidates overall, and none of them have ever been a superintendent. Not ever. Not anywhere. This is the group of candidates we got, too, after investing $10,000 of taxpayer money in a search consultant. Maybe we should have gone with instead?

12 Responses to “Another fumble: SC drops ball on superintendent finalists”

  1. My Way or the Highway March 24, 2017 at 2:54 pm #

    Totally agree.

  2. Annonymous March 24, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

    First, base salary is $170K. Second, the candidate from Gloucester is an Assistant Superintendent. Although not a Superintendent, but pretty darn close compared to say a Principal. Third, it sounds as if you want someone who has had many years experience as a Superintendent yet Peabody’s last Superintendent (Mastrocola), who had experience, did “wonders” for Peabody. And that Peabody’s current interim Superintendent, also with many years of experience, is only “mediocre”. But bringing in someone with a fresh perspective, who has never been involved with Peabody politics, who doesn’t have any Peabody ties, is a bad thing? They only way to move up or get a positions in Peabody is by knowing someone and that needs to stop now because it is flooding this city with morons. Take a closer look at Peabody Public Schools employee roster. Many employees are connected by blood or friendships and they have no experience for the job they are in. God forbid we give people a chance to move up on the ladder. No let’s high some old, experienced Superintendent who probably won’t give a hoot because they have been doing this for so long and will probably retire in a few years. And then we will be back where are today, looking for another old, experienced Superintendent. Plus, why would a Superintendent leave their current district anyways for a troubled, difficult city?

    • Bob Croce March 24, 2017 at 4:22 pm #

      Solid points. But I still feel that we need to aim higher. It’s not about getting someone “hungry” for the job as Mr. Rossignoll said. It’s about getting the best possible candidate.

      One thing we both totally agree on here is that Peabody has indeed become a place where blood and friend relationships are more important than qualifications. It’s like that in all of the departments.

      The other important thing here is that you definitely need someone with political skills to hold this job, especially since the Mayor is Chair of the SC. This is a VERY political position.

      BTW, the newspapers have written that the salary range is $170K-$190K.

      • No Experience Needed March 24, 2017 at 6:58 pm #

        Maybe if they want someone “hungry” they should lower the salary level until said “hungry” super proves him or herself worthy of being paid more. You know lack of experience and all…Besides, Ted will give the person a raise after a year anyway to bring the salary more “in line with what the job pays elsewhere”. Are any of them friends of or related to Ted?

        The real question on everyone’s minds though is what will happen to poor old double dipping Herb?

  3. anonymous March 24, 2017 at 7:52 pm #

    Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) was hired by the School Committee and MASC conducted the search, MASC ONLY gets paid if the School Committee hires someone, so it is in MASC best interest to put forth the best candidates. From what was told to me somebody close to MASC there was about 30 applicants, half you could throw out right away, not a strong pool at all. Let’s just say there were no solid candidates (could not even count on one hand) who are currently employed who had been a Superintendent, so this is what we have to pick from or more of the same. The applicants are the applicants, no other search committee or agency would have found any different.

    • Brown school parent March 25, 2017 at 6:01 pm #

      So we the taxpayers pay a finder’s fee and then the $170k on top of it? The school committee members aren’t responsible for doing this on their own? What do they do?

  4. Anonymous April 4, 2017 at 9:42 pm #

    One of the finalists has been offered the same position for Malden Public Schools. You can’t make this stuff up!

  5. Susan65 April 5, 2017 at 7:44 am #

    The blame goes squarely on the Mayor and his inability to rope in the inept school committee.
    He was duped by the search firm and continues to lack the leadership skills to manage our city.
    He was duped by Levine, screwed up by letting mastracolo leave ( a solid person) and continues to get manipulated by the school committee especially rosignoll, carpenter, and dunne.

    And … that’s just what we see… imagine if someone digs into the day to day management of the school department and the cozy union relationships.

    Once again, our kids getting screwed!!!

  6. Mookie April 5, 2017 at 7:49 am #

    What happens now? We were down to 2 finalists and now before a decision was made by Peabody, Oteri gets offered the same position in Malden. Do we go with Ruggiero or start the process again. Peabody wasted time on this process. According to a quote by Beverley Dunne “biggest challenge about this process is scheduling the interviews and the meetings,”.

  7. barb24 April 5, 2017 at 12:29 pm #

    All these posts are right on!

    The comments by our school committee members are outrageous.
    They should all resign.
    But , Oh yeah… what about their $5000 stipend and health insurance worth $20000 that they are getting!

    How do they look at themselves in the mirror!

    And the rest of the elected officials( Mayor, Gould, Walsh) that do nothing about it are just to blame. Where is the leadership?

    The city and school department are a mess!

  8. Anon1 April 7, 2017 at 8:57 am #

    Barb24 , you are right about the elected officials doing nothing.
    I thought being a leader is when you stand up for something when it is wrong?

    The Mayor is Levine’s puppet and can’t stand up to the ego based School Committee.

    And Gould is another one…. just because you act like Billy Bulger and host a circus of a st Patricks day and give free ice cream to special needs kids doesn’t make you a good leader!

    Our city is a mess , because they don’t stand up to the fraud school committee!!!!

  9. Mookie April 13, 2017 at 7:57 am #

    Salem News Headline Today: Unanimous vote to not pick the remaining finalist for superintendent! We must seek a critical shortage waiver from the state to keep Herb Levine! What a shocker! Not. There is even talk to have Ms. Murtagh take over the position with the right training and guidance? Training and guidance from who: the present school committee and the mayor? You can’t tell me that the outcome of last nights meeting wasn’t discussed in advance.

    Do the math people. Here’s another tax increase. Bad for the citizens of Peabody, good for Dr. Levine.

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