No immediate superintendent search planned

No immediate superintendent search planned

PAWTUCKET – Interim Superintendent of Schools Cheryl McWilliams will remain in the role through the summer and into the new year, say school officials, who do not see any urgency in running a search for a new permanent head of schools.

And though it might appear that McWilliams can only solidify her standing as the frontrunner to remain in the position by gaining valuable experience, School Committee Chairman Jay Charbonneau told The Breeze that there’s more downside to taking such a role than many people might think.

“She could easily have said, I’m going to step back and not be the interim and apply later,” he said. “There are pros and cons for anyone who steps into an interim position.”

It was a credit to McWilliams that she stepped up for the role, said Charbonneau. She’s shown she can handle the tough situations, he said, and time will allow her to prove herself as she continues on with the work of running the district.

“She’s a professional, is dedicated, was born and raised here,” he said. “She’s certainly Pawtucket tough.”

The city needed stability and people in place who would advance the progress of the district after the “somewhat surprising” announcement of former Supt. Patti DiCenso’s departure, said Charbonneau, and McWilliams, former assistant superintendent, was the “natural choice” for top school administrator.

“Cheryl is the person who fit the bill for us,” he said, adding that she’s highly respected in the district.

Charbonneau is not closing the door on someone else potentially rising to the top in a planned search for someone to permanently replace DiCenso, who finished with the district on June 28.

“I think there’s probably a vast majority of people interested in the position,” he said, saying the Pawtucket superintendent position has become a more desirable job thanks to the work of DiCenso and others.

Charbonneau said it appears school officials will get through the opening of schools with McWilliams in place, and will put a search committee in place sometime after that. Having a search now, potentially putting someone else in place, would have a detrimental impact, particularly with “a full plate of summer projects that Cheryl’s up to speed on,” said Charbonneau.

DiCenso left the district with some terrific leaders in place, said Charbonneau, including Lisa Benedetti-Ramzi, former Goff Middle School principal recently appointed by the School Committee as interim assistant superintendent.