All-Island School Committee approves $165,000 superintendent contract

Principal Richie Smith mulls offer of assistant superintendent position.

Matthew D’Andrea is the current assistant superintendent of the Martha's Vineyard Schools and one of two finalists. — Photo by Michael Cummo

The All-Island School Committee approved a three-year contract for Matt D’Andrea, the newly appointed superintendent of Martha’s Vineyard public schools, at its recent meeting on Feb. 18. Mr. D’Andrea, assistant superintendent, was picked to replace superintendent James Weiss, who retires on June 30.

Mr. D’Andrea will receive a salary of $165,000 for two years, with a third year at $170,000. In addition, the contract calls for a car allowance, moving expenses, and five weeks of vacation. The decision to discuss the contract out of public view raised the hackles of Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter, a West Tisbury selectman with a reputation for fiscal restraint.

Mr. Manter objected to a motion to move the meeting to executive session. “This discussion needs to be in public,” he said.

Dave Rossi of Edgartown, committee chairman, said that the school attorney had suggested it was appropriate to have an executive session. A roll-call vote left Mr. Manter the only no vote, and the committee members went into executive session for “negotiations with nonunion personnel.”

When the public meeting resumed, Mr. Rossi asked for discussion of the contract prior to a vote to approve. Mr. Manter questioned the vacation allowance. “Five weeks vacation sounds like a lot to start out,” he said. Mr. Rossi said that Mr. D’Andrea was not a “new employee,” and that he had significant experience. Mr. Manter said he did not agree with starting Mr. D’Andrea at a salary that is more than Mr. Weiss now earns. “I also think that anyone making $165,000 a year can pay for his own car and cell phone,” Mr. Manter said. He made a motion to strike several clauses from the contract, but did not receive a second. The contract was approved with only Mr. Manter voting no.

Offer on the table

Mr. D’Andrea said he was pleased to have been offered the position and thanked the committee for its vote of confidence. He said that the next order of business was to consider the appointment of an assistant superintendent, and asked the committee to allow him to offer the position to Richie Smith, principal of the Oak Bluffs School and the other finalist for superintendent. “He is completely qualified for the position, but I am not telling you anything you do not already know. I have discussed this with Richie, and believe he has interest,” he said.

The committee voted unanimously to have Mr. D’Andrea offer the position to Mr. Smith and begin negotiations.

In a telephone conversation Friday, Mr. Weiss said that the assistant superintendent’s position was posted, and that after requirements for posting the job were satisfied, he expected that negotiations between Mr. D’Andrea and Mr. Smith would take place over the next few weeks. If successful, the All-Island School Committee would schedule another meeting to review and ratify this second contract.

As far as a potential vacancy for the Oak Bluffs principal’s position is concerned, Mr. Weiss said, “Of course, Richie Smith will remain in Oak Bluffs through the end of the school year. And although I have not yet discussed a search with the Oak Bluffs school committee, I expect they will want to cast a wide net when looking for a new principal.”

Snow days

Mr. Weiss reviewed current planning for the end of the school year. The district used four snow days prior to February vacation. This means that the last day of school will be Friday, June 26. There is a buffer of two more snow days, according to Mr. Weiss. Use of those days would push the end of school to either Monday, June 29,or Tuesday, June 30. Because the school schedule cannot extend into July, Mr. Weiss said, if the school uses more than the two additional snow days, the option would be Saturdays or the loss of April vacation. “Let’s hope neither of those options is necessary,” he said.