Even if Boston Public Schools is able to hire a new superintendent by the end of June, the ambitious deadline set when Brenda Cassellius’s departure was announced in February, the district may still need an interim chief to allow for transition time, School Committee members publicly acknowledged for the first time this week.
District officials have had conversations about picking an interim superintendent, Committee Chairwoman Jeri Robinson said at a School Committee meeting Wednesday night in response to questioning from Committee Member Brandon Cardet-Hernandez.
“I think it is time, maybe at our next School Committee meeting, for us to start having the conversation about what an interim superintendent will look like,” Cardet-Hernandez said after hearing an update from the superintendent search committee. “There may be a time gap between the person being able to start and Dr. Cassellius’ departure.”
School and city leaders have said since the beginning of the search that they would like to have a permanent superintendent hired in time for the next school year, without a need for an interim. The search process is on track, search committee cochair Pam Eddinger told the School Committee Wednesday.
But even if that continues to go smoothly, Cardet-Hernadez predicted, “We are going to need an interim.”
Robinson said she has discussed the possibility with other district officials and that a transition plan is being developed.
“I have been asked to hold on and to allow the process to do what it is set up to do,” she said. “We will have a transition process that the district is already working on.”
Robinson said she has pressed Michael O’Neill, a member of the search committee and the vice chairman of the School Committee, on the issue.
“Once we have indication from the Search Committee as to how they are doing, and if they feel they are meeting their timeline and what that might look like, I think at that point we will have fuller discussions and we will be doing that in collaboration with the district and with the mayor’s office,” Robinson said.
Ideally, Eddinger said, the next superintendent, once selected, could be part of the conversation around an interim figure.
Cardet-Hernandez pushed for transparency around the interim superintendent discussion as soon as possible.
“The people on the ground, who work in schools every single day, deserve to know who that is, not as a sort of last-minute announcement, but with just a proper runway so they can wrap their heads around this,” he said. “There has been enough instability and uncertainty on a school level.”
Mayor Michelle Wu’s office has maintained that the search process has met the milestones set out at the beginning of the search process in February and they still expect to have a new superintendent hired by the end of June.
The search committee received over 30 applications and plans to conduct a first round of virtual interviews with a selected subset of around eight on June 1 and 2, Eddinger said Wednesday. After a second, in-person round with a winnowed pool the week after, the committee will recommend finalists to the School Committee for public interviews in mid-June.