Assistant superintendent of schools Richie Smith outlined the search for the new Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) principal at the school committee meeting Monday. He said they will use the same process used in the recent hiring of the new superintendent of schools and Oak Bluffs principal.
Mr. Smith said the application window has closed, and the search committee is moving forward in the process with 20 applicants. Of that pool, about 12 applicants are from the New England area. The farthest away is from Washington state. He said the search committee will consider geography and the reality of getting the candidates to the Island. Interim Principal Peg Regan, however, was a California resident when she was hired in 1998. “Anybody that intrigues us we’re going to interview,” he said.
Mr. Smith said the comprehensive search group that was put together earlier this fall hopes to narrow down the applicant pool from 20 to about eight at a meeting on Nov. 12. Those candidates will be interviewed.
He said the search committee plans to keep the whole process confidential until the final four candidates are named, at which point they will interact with the school and the community. Two finalists will be chosen based on feedback from those site visits. Ultimately, naming the principal will be up to Superintendent Matt D’Andrea.
“We would love to have Matt name a principal by the end of January or, at the latest, the first part of February,” Mr. Smith said. That gives the superintendent’s office enough time to begin a new search process in February if none of the candidates in the first round are suitable.
Mr. Smith said they are being “very deliberate and very careful” with the search, because the upcoming principal will be the fifth in two years. That group includes Stephen Nixon, who stepped down in 2014 after six years; Matt D’Andrea, who was acting principal in Mr. Nixon’s place; Gil Traverso, last year’s principal, who took another job off-Island one year into his three-year contract; and Ms. Regan, who is the current interim principal and formerly served as principal from 1999 to 2008.
Mr. Smith related a conversation he had with Ms. Regan. “One of the things she said last week was, ‘We need to find someone who understands what a wonderful school they’ll be getting, what a great, talented group of children, and what a great, talented, and caring staff,’” he said. “So we are going to put our heart and soul into this search.”