WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Apple recently asked all six Wilmington School Committee candidates to describe their ideal superintendent candidate. Candidates were also asked to share their feelings about the School Committee’s handling of former Superintendent Mary DeLai’s resignation.
This week’s response schedule is as follows: Rhonda Musikar-Rosner (Monday), Amy Largenton (Tuesday), Sabrina Hewitt (Wednesday), Jennifer Bryson (Thursday), Steve Bjork (Friday), Kathleen O’Donoghue (Saturday), and a recap (Sunday).
Below is the response from candidate Rhonda Musikar-Rosner.
QUESTION: One of the School Committee’s most important roles — arguably its most important — is hiring and evaluating the Superintendent. (1) Looking back, to address the elephant in the room, how do you feel the School Committee handled the resignation of former Superintendent Mary DeLai? (2) Looking forward, what qualities are you looking for in the next Superintendent? Describe your ideal candidate.
ANSWER: I have to agree with you that the resignation of Superintendent Mary DeLai is definitely an elephant in the room. It is something that is hard to address as the only ones who were privy to what went on were the members of the school committee. I believe that when the school committee hired Ms.DeLai they felt she was highly qualified for the job. As a public school employee, we are subjected to background checks that include a CORI Check and being finger printed. Ms.DeLai would have also been subjected to the same stringent background checks as all public school employees. At the time of her hiring there were not red flags that would have indicated she was not qualified for the position. She showed an innovation approach and seemed to care about students and their families. From what I have heard in the community and have read online after the fact that there were warning signs of personal issues. Not being a member of the school committee I am unsure of what concerns was brought to their attention beforehand. When the news broke of her actions, there were only two choices, she would have to resign or be let go. Clearly the only choice the school committee members had was to accept her resignation because she is supposed to lead by example. I could only speculate that she decided to resign before she was let go and a deal was offered to ensure this happened quickly. Once again, I was not part of the board so I am not privy to discussions that went on before and during the Monday meeting after the news broke. I do know what has been written on our community boards and that many Wilmington residents have strong opinions about the situation. I feel a mistake was made; we need to learn from that mistake and move forward.
Moving forward is what we need to do. I was happy to hear we now have close to 40 applicants to choose from for our next Superintendent. Since I view the Superintendent of Schools in my district as our leader, I wanted to base my answer on the qualities I respect in the current Superintendent of the school district I work in. As well as what I would like to see as a parent. I am the first to admit that I don’t always know the answers to questions. I like to have all the information and facts before I state my opinion. That being said, I googled what are the qualities that make a great Superintendent. I found a great article on the website Great Schools at http://www.greatschools.org/gk/author/greatschoolsstaff. It’s definitely a must read. According to this website “The superintendent is the CEO of the school district.” He or she must be able to set the tone and chart the course of the district. To do this I feel we need to have a Superintendent that possesses qualities of a good leader. One with excellent innovative skills that will help the district move forward curriculum wise while possessing a passion to ensure what is best for all students. Also, the new Superintendent needs to be mindful of the demands of providing a quality education to all. I would like to see a Superintendent that is willing to work as a team with the school committee, teachers and administrators to assure our schools will be successful. This person must also be able to make decisions that may not be popular but important in moving our schools forward. I also googled traits of what makes a great leader. There are several traits that I felt were important to emphasis on our search for a new Superintendent: Integrity, passion for learning, innovation (he or she needs to be able to think outside of the box), patience, consistency and strong goals for our community. The new Superintendent would also have to be able to hire qualified people to run our schools as we have several intern positions that need to be filled (Principal at the Middle School and Director of Special Education are two that come to mind). My ideal candidate would lead by example and would understand that if he or she did not it would be grounds for immediate removal.
When Ms. Benton came out with her budget for the next school year I was impressed that she took in consideration the out of pocket costs that both parents and teachers have to put up for school supplies. I have the same expectations for the incoming Superintendent. I am hopeful that the next Superintendent will bring new programs and resources to Wilmington. That he or she would consider the needs of our children and budget for more after school activities, especially at the Middle School level. Finally, we need a Superintendent that is able to work well with both parents and teachers to help ensure all children’s educational needs are met.
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