Last Friday was the final day for two of the highest school administrators in Watertown – Superintendent Jean Fitzgerald and Business Services Director Charles Kellner – and now the School Committee must figure out what to do in the short and long terms.
Fitzgerald announced her retirement in September following calls for the School Committee to have a vote of no confidence, and despite many speaking out in support of her. Kellner is officially retiring in December, but he is using vacation time so he will not be back before his official final day. He will also help with the transition to the interim business manager.
For both positions, the School Committee has decided to appoint an interim for the post, and then search for a permanent replacement.
A group of parents, teachers, administrators, a high school student and a School Committee member make up the Interim Superintendent Screening Committee, said Assistant Superintendent Theresa McGuinness, who will serve as acting superintendent until an interim is chosen.
Some applications have been received, said Human Resources Director Craig Hardimon, and the screening committee met Thursday, Oct. 13 and will meet on Monday Oct. 17 in an executive session to do preliminary interviews, Hardimon said.
Finalists will be selected on Oct. 17 and reference checks will be done Oct. 18-20.
A community forum where residents can hear from the finalists and ask questions is planned for Wednesday, Oct. 19 from 6-8 p.m. at Watertown High School, Hardimon said. On Oct. 24, the School Committee will interview the finalists and likely make a choice.
Then one or more of the finalists will be interviewed by the School Committee in a public meeting, Hardimon said.
For the Business Services Director, the district is looking for an interim to finish the school year. The person will serve until the new permanent superintendent is hired and appoints his or her business manager, Hardimon said.
In the meantime, the district hired a business manger for the very short term, until the interim can be found. School Committee Chairman John Portz said Francis “Skip” Fennel was hired last week and he has worked with the district in the past.
The district did one search for an interim business services director already, and had a finalist. However, the School Committee did not vote yes or no on the candidate, and instead delayed it. While the candidate has not been ruled out, another search has started, Hardimon said.
Applications were due Oct. 10, and a separate screening committee met Tuesday to review the applications. Interviews are planned for later this week and reference checks will be done. Two or more people will be recommended, and shortly after that they finalists will be interviewed by the School Committee.