The search for a new superintendent of schools in Wellesley is well under way with a consultant likely hired by mid-January, but whether or not the process will actually yield the right candidate is still anyone’s guess.
And while some have called for the whole process to be slowed down by hiring an interim for a year, search Committee Chairman KC Kato says the search is continuing with the goal of hiring a permanent replacement for Superintendent Bella T. Wong effective at the end of the school year.
If all goes as planned, a new superintendent will be hired to begin work on July 1.
But, Kato stressed, there are three important points in the search where it can be halted in favor of hiring an interim who would work for one year while the process starts over.
Nothing, she said, has been decided.
The next step in the process will be for the School Committee to to work with the search committee. A request for proposal was finalized and issued last week, and a decision on which firm to hire is expected to be made during the second week of January.
Once the consultant is on board, the first opportunity to end the search for a permanent replacement for Wong could be taken.
Kato said the consultant could recommend a longer timetable, at which time she and School Committee member Ilissa Povich who is also a part of the search committee and an advisory group established to start the process would make a recommendation to the full School Committee which would decide whether or not to end the search.
The consultant would then help find the right person to fill-in on an interim basis, according to Kato.
In the meantime, the full Advisory Search Committee will be selected from people in the community who have submitted information for consideration.
Along with parents and residents who don’t have children in the public schools, this committee is expected to have at least 12 members and include at least one teacher, administrator, Selectman Ellen Gibbs, Patti Quigley, co-president of the , Naomi Stonberg, a member of the town’s Human Resources Board, Kato and Povich.
Focus groups will also be set-up with parents and residents who have submitted information.
The focus groups will work with the consultant to establish the framework around which the next superintendent will be hired.
This is the next step where the search could be postponed and an interim hired.
According to Kato, the focus groups could fail to reach a consensus quickly enough to make it feasible to move forward on the established timetable.
Again, an interim could be hired to buy time while a consensus is reached.
The last place where the search could be halted in favor of an interim would be when the Advisory Search Committee takes a look at the applicant pool.
If the committee sees the pool and doesn’t believe it includes a suitable candidate, or if after interviewing five to seven semi-finalists in private or three to five finalists in public a solid choice does not emerge, again, an interim could be hired and a new search launched.
There are expected to be approximately 62 other school districts in the hunt for a new superintendent this year, and Wellesley is entering the process somewhat late.
But Kato and other members of the School Committee have said this town’s highly ranked schools and its historic commitment to education demonstrated by its of passing of several overrides of Proposition 2 1/2 to support the schools, should help attract top tier candidates.