SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The South Kingstown School Committee made appointments last week to the advisory committee tasked with searching for and recommending a new superintendent of schools.
The committee selected 14 people from a pool of 77 applicants.
“That speaks volumes about what an involved community we have,” School Committee member Emily Cummiskey said. “Everybody had something to offer that would be really valuable to the search process.”
The group includes a mix of retired administrators and teachers from the district, local parents and representatives from higher education.
Interim Superintendent of Schools Bob Hicks said the group also might want to include a non-certified employee and a student representative, which it did.
The School Committee has yet to announce the findings of an investigation of how former Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow conducted the notice of possible teacher layoffs in the district.
The committee placed Stringfellow on paid administrative leave in April, days after she announced she’d accepted the position of superintendent of the Norwich, Connecticut public schools.
Stringfellow started in Norwich July 1.
During the June 25 meeting, the committee appointed Jennifer Enck as principal of West Kingston Elementary School and named Linda Savastano as the new assistant superintendent.
Enck began Monday, while Savastano is set to start July 11.
Savastano has spent her career in Middletown, beginning as a math teacher, then as technology director and as assistant superintendent since 2008.
“After internal and external consultation and my own reflection, I bring Linda to you because I think she is the right person at the right time,” Hicks said. “With her ten years of experience in the position in another Rhode Island district, an interim superintendent here, little to no transition time, and many new incoming administrators, Linda’s capability and experience make choosing her a great opportunity for us.”
Hicks also said Savastano, chosen from three finalists, intends to apply for superintendent.
“While there is an initial awkwardness in this, when thought through it makes sense for her and us. Should she be successful in that process, she would then be able to choose her assistant,” he said.
Raissa Mosher, a former School Committee member, told the committee she’s concerned about less than full transparency in the selection process for the assistant superintendent position.
“This is not a statement about (Savastano’s) qualifications as a candidate. I’m addressing the process,” she said.
“It is hard to imagine that with two other strong candidates, that the School Committee would appoint someone as assistant superintendent who doesn’t actually want that job,” Mosher said. “Appointing her tonight … does not make sense for our district.”
The committee still has to fill two administrative positions: dual language coordinator and Peace Dale Elementary School principal, Hicks said. Those could be filled at a special meeting in the coming weeks.
“I would like those to not have to wait until the August meeting,” Hicks said.