Superintendent search will be run internally

Superintendent search will be run internally

DiManna not applying for top post

CUMBERLAND – The Cumberland school community will run its search for a new superintendent internally instead of hiring an outside firm, with an emphasis on candidates from the New England area.

Director of Human Resources Katherine Duncanson reminded the School Committee at its meeting last Thursday, Jan. 14, that this is the most pivotal hire the schools will make for the future direction of a district that’s come a long way. The choice of a top administrator can “really shift (the district) one way or another,” she said.

Duncanson said this is the one employee the school board has the direct power to hire. A new superintendent will replace the retiring Bob Mitchell in July.

Keeping the search as an internal effort gives the district more control, said Duncanson, allowing the process to play out more quickly.

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In response to a request for comment on his potential interest, Assistant Supt. Antonio DiManna told The Breeze on Tuesday that he won’t be seeking to replace Mitchell.

“I am not planning to pursue the superintendency when Mr. Mitchell retires for both personal and professional reasons,” he said. “Therefore, at this time I am committed to keeping my curriculum team together to continue the work we started six years ago.

“My team has great chemistry, and we have developed a unique bond that has allowed us to accomplish several goals over the past several years,” he added. “My passion remains on focusing my attention on teaching and learning. I want to continue working with teachers and administrators by remaining heavily involved in the academic performance of our students and district as a whole.”

Duncanson said she will advertise the position nationally, but won’t have the same ability as an outside firm in recruiting within local communities across the country. Doing the work internally will save between $10,000 and $18,000, she said.

Duncanson said Cumberland is in a unique position as a very attractive place for top candidates, with a “fantastic reputation in local communities,” one that’s pro education and supportive of schools.

Addressing questions on whether she feels comfortable running the search, Duncanson said she is and will shift some other work around in the department and prioritize this important effort.

Member Denis Collins said he likes the idea of getting someone from New England, a region that “leads the country in public education. If we’re going to find candidates, we’re going to find them here.” The town needs someone who will continue to move its schools in the right direction while navigating through the impacts of COVID-19, he said.

Member Kerry Feather emphasized that she’d like to see the job pushed out to publications representing diverse readerships.

Member Mark Fiorillo noted that current school employees are also welcome to apply. He said there may be qualified people who have faithfully served the district who want to put their name in the mix.

Member Paul DiModica said the district hasn’t run a search since before Phil Thornton a decade ago. He said Mayor Jeff Mutter was part of that search and the committee should reach out to him to see how it was run. DiModica said he’d like to see the committee have a special meeting to discuss the type of people who should serve on a search committee.

Chairwoman Karen Freedman also emphasized the importance of learning from that previous search committee, including what worked well and what didn’t.

Mitchell last week thanked the School Committee and the entire school community for their kindness and support to his family during a very difficult time after they lost his daughter-in-law Emily and her unborn son. The kindness everyone has shown has really helped get them through a tough time, he said. Mitchell said there will be times when he’ll be distracted by family needs during the months ahead, particularly as he supports his son Joe and Joe’s four children, but will continue to fulfill his obligations to the district to the best of his ability until his retirement in June.

Fiorillo said Mitchell has definitely earned the support over the years, urging him to take any time that he needs.