Search for interim superintendent kicks off, screening committee to be named

The School Committee met Friday to launch its search for an interim superintendent that members hope will start by November or December. Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Michelle Cresta has been named acting superintendent through Oct. 31.

The School Committee has launched its search for a new interim superintendent to work at the district’s Widger Road offices. CURRENT PHOTO / LEIGH BLANDER

The School Committee met via Zoom with two leaders from the New England Schools Development Council, which will assist in the search for an interim superintendent. The district is a member of NESDEC, so the work will be free of charge.

“The check’s in the mail,” joked School Committee Chair Sarah Fox.

After the interim superintendent is in place, the committee will begin the search for a permanent school leader, possibly in February or March.

However, if the interim superintendent works out well, it is possible to keep that person in place for a longer period of time (maybe up to 18 months) and launch the search for a permanent superintendent later. The interim may even become the permanent superintendent.

“Start the interim search, see what the candidate pool is. You have time to make the other decisions,” said NESDEC’s Carolyn Burke. 

The first step for the interim search is for NESDEC to send out what’s called a “letter of application,” describing Marblehead and the school district to interested parties.

“We’ll dust off the letter from two years ago,” said NESDEC’s David DeRuosi, referring to the district’s last search. “We want to try and move this fast.”

Fox said she’ll update the letter and send it to NESDEC to post. The job will be posted for three to six weeks. NESDEC will vet applicants and present several finalists to the School Committee.

In the meantime, the School Committee will put together a screening committee consisting of two School Committee members, one teacher, one administrator and two parents. Cresta will name the teacher and administrator. Fox said that interested parents should send her a letter at

She encouraged parents to include information like, “Why you think you would be a good fit. Perhaps you’re a hiring consultant somewhere. What makes you a good fit for this? Confirm you do have children in the system.”

Fox said she’d like to see some new faces get involved.

“In the last few years we’ve turned over 67% of our principals, we’ve done an assistant superintendent search. We’ve done a lot of searches and I’ve seen a lot of repeat names on there,” she said, referring to past search committees. “It’s important to open it up to people who haven’t been able to,” to do it before.

The screening committee will narrow down the field of applications to about three to five, and send them to the full School Committee for review.

During the public comment section of the meeting, Chris Bruell Zoomed in to ask about the cost for the permanent superintendent.

“It really ran the gamut last time,” answered Fox. “In the single digit thousands range. It will depend on the next steps. If we find an interim that becomes a permanent, there may be no cost.”

Since 2005, Marblehead has had a revolving door of superintendents, including Ellen Minihan, long-term interim Phil Devaux, G. Paul Dulac, interim Brian Salzer, Gregory Maass, Maryann Perry, interim Bill McAlduff and John Buckey.

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Editor Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter.

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