Thursday, August 4, 2011

School superintendent finalists have had controversy

The Salem School Committee will be interviewing two finalists to replace the departing Dr. Cameron in about an hour. I hope they really consider the backgrounds and working relationships that these two candidates leave behind.

We have a current superintendent who jumped ship in the middle of his contract for family reasons. We have a current candidate before us who also has a history of jumping ship in the middle of a contract, as she did in 2003, with 2 years remaining on her contract. She also left the school she jumped to after just a year, with controversy, to the point where one school board member said that she was either crazy, or was trying to force the board to fire her so she could retire, and a $350,000 pay day in her pocket. The committee should dive into this and ask numerous questions about this candidate's ability to work well with others. This relationship appears to have gone bad right away, and that's rarely one-sided. There was also a two year gap in her work after that situation, and she ended up going from a district with 40,000 students to a district with only K-8th grade, and only 300 or so students. Pretty good work for $174,000 a year.

They should also question her on her dedication to this role. She announced a few short months ago her intention to retire and enjoy life, while traveling.  "She said she has a lengthy list of places to go and things to do that she’s added to as she has heard stories from other retired people. “I think it’s time now for me to bring out that list. It will be a new adventure." So why, a month after she left that job, is she looking for a superintendent job? I hope we are focused on finding a leader who won't be jumping ship in a year or three.

There's not as much interesting info out there on the other candidate, Dr. Stephen Russell, the just departed superintendent of the Dartmouth MA school system. Of interest is the fact that he's available because he was unable to come to terms to remain the superintendent in Dartmouth after an eight year stay. I'd definitely want to know what gives there. His prior salary was $145,041. It sounds like this might be all about straight cash homie. His assistant was hired to replace him, I'd guess at a lower salary. Was he looking for a big raise? Did they want him to take a pay cut? How much does he expect here?

Shortly after it was announced that an agreement couldn't be reached, the Standard-Times named him Dartmouth Man of the Year for his ability to be a bridge builder. So, maybe this was Dartmouth's loss.

Do I know who should be picked? Absolutely not. I hope the interviews are rigorous.


  1. I should also note, Russell proposed a 4 million dollar prop 2.5 override in Dartmouth back in 2008. No likey.

  2. So. That was the best that was out there?

    I too hope the questions are rigorous.

  3. Darek Barcikowski is at the interviews. He tweeted me that she's refusing to talk about Fontana, citing a non-disclosure agreement. I'm not willing to take that gamble with nothing from her about what happened.

  4. I should also mention that Bradley's district was sued after she insisted on installing biometric thumb scanners for teachers to check in and out. They then stopped using the really expensive equipment when the lawsuit was about to go to trial. Expensive mistake.

  5. Had to leave after 2 hrs for my event @ Pamplemousse tonight but based on what I have heard Russell will most likely get the job. Bradley did not talk about what happened in Fontana as mentioned above, only stating that she and the school committee had major disagreements. She was asked numerous times on the issue and refused to say what took place. However, it was mentioned that during the first round of interviews she said she left for medical/health reasons. A committee member made that point and she replied that the whole incident caused her stress. I don't trust her. Her replies were too general and theoretic, she lacks personality. Russell is perhaps not as well-spoken but genuine and through his meaningful responses was able to articulate his positions as well as provide specific examples and arguments. Based on what I have heard, he would be my candidate of choice.


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