SCHOOL COMMITTEE NEWS: Benton, 4 Others On Short List For Interim Superintendent

WILMINGTON, MA — The Wilmington School Committee will soon review the resumes of the following FIVE individuals who have expressed an interest in serving as the school district’s next interim superintendent:

  • Joanne Benton, Wilmington’s Superintendent from 2007 to 2014
  • Joe Connelly, a teacher, principal and business administrator in Wilmington in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, who now seeks out interim superintendent roles
  • Mike LaCava, Principal at a Chelmsford Elementary School, a runner-up to Mary DeLai in the 2014 superintendent search, and a Wilmington resident
  • Joe Mastrocola, former Peabody Superintendent
  • Garry Murphy, former Triton Regional Superintendent

School Committee Vice Chair Steve Bjork wasted no time in letting his colleagues know where he stands.

“I think anyone who hasn’t served in this district is going to have a learning curve and we’re coming up on budget season,” observed Bjork.  “I think there’s one person that knows the district, knows the players and could walk in and will have a calming effect on the staff — our prior Superintendent, Joanne Benton.”

“If we can get the right person in here tonight, or make the first moves tonight, it would be prudent for us to do,” Bjork later added in reference to Benton.

“I agree that [Benton] would come in and probably do a great job, but I think we should talk about [the process],” interjected member Manny Mulas, before Bjork could finish making his motion to have the committee immediately reach out to Benton.

“If the group feels we want an interim superintendent to come in as soon as possible while we look for a [permanent replacement], I’d have to agree with Steve.  That would probably be the right decision to make,” said Mulas.  “But I don’t know if that’s what we want. [Instead,] do we want to bring someone on as an interim superintendent to work their way through and if we feel they’re the right person, we [make that person] the full-time superintendent.”

Mulas was adamant that the committee at least explore the possibility of hiring an interim superintendent with an eye towards giving that person an opportunity to earn the position permanently.

It’s believed Benton, Connelly, and Murphy would not be interested in staying on as a permanent superintendent, while LaCava and Mastrocola would be interested in making the transition from interim to permanent if afforded the opportunity.

“The first question you really need to answer is which one of these do you really want — do you want an experienced superintendent to move us through this next phase OR do you want to take a risk and potentially bring in someone who could become the permanent superintendent but doesn’t have the experience,” asked Mike Gilbert, Field Director for the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, who is advising the School Committee in its search.

“I think we need to find somebody that’s going to fill the gap and then concentrate on the permanent search.  I think that makes more sense,” Bjork would later answer.

Tom Talbot, the School Committee’s sole member who did not serve on the board during the 2014 superintendent search, indicated he was not comfortable taking a vote to fill the position tonight and requested additional information.

School Committee secretary Ginny Bonish asked multiple questions surrounding the restrictions that the candidates who are currently drawing their retirement come with relative to how much they can earn and how much they can actually work.

School Committee Chair Julie Broussard didn’t indicate any sort of candidate preference, but stressed to her colleagues that they needed to make the necessary commitment to see the process through, and emphasized that this was the board’s biggest priority.

“It’s going to be all hands on deck.  This will require a lot of our time,” Broussard advised.

“If you brought [an interim superintendent] in this month for the rest of the school year, take a breath, start in January for a permanent superintendent search, and we could be finished [with that search] by the end of the school year,” explained MASC Field Director Gilbert.  “3-4 months is what you need to do a full-blown search.”

School Committee members are currently determining which of the five interim superintendent candidates to interview. Interviews will likely occur during the week of October 16.  The interviews will happen in a meeting that is open to the public.  A selection, pending successful contract negotiations, could come immediately after the interviews are completed.

School Committee member Peggy Kane recused herself from any discussion on the matter as she has a family member who is employed by the school district. School Committee member M.J. Byrnes was unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting due to a long-planned family vacation.

Watch the entire discussion, courtesy of Wilmington Community Television, below at the 1:20:40-mark:

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5 thoughts

  1. Most of these are over the hill. LaCava has absolutely no central office experience. Nice guy but we don’t need that now.
    We need an experienced educator but not retired!!!
    Only choice here is Mastracola.
    He has been a person of integrity and experience in the education field for years!

    1. Didn’t Peabody want to get rid of Joe M so badly that they forced him out by agreeing to buy him out? Am I wrong?
      I hope Wilmington isn’t going to take any risks, or give anyone a trial. We need stability and time to do a full search. Don’t want to repeat the same mistakes or be back in this place again.
      Sounds like Benton is the best bet for rest of the year.

      1. The Peabody School Committee is noted as being an impossible group of individuals with power and higher office as their motivation.
        I think they have had 8 superintendents in 15 years!!!

  2. Did we forget all the skeletons Benton has here?

    Connolly just a money grabber.

    Joe M left Peabody because the School Committee are a bunch of wackos!

    Peabody has had 7 Superintendents in 10 years. One of the worst places to work in the state.

  3. As far as I am concerned more people in the town need to go and every where in town should start out fresh with unknown people to you all should be considered not all and your friends get over the clickee town of wilmington and start with people that don’t need to know someone to get a Job anyone can do this job that has common sense

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