Schools will name new head May 9

The school committee is expected to appoint a superintendent at its May 9 meeting, according to Kathy Sipala, interim superintendent.

The board met in executive session four times from April 23-30 to interview its two finalists. They are David Raleigh, the current superintendent of schools in LeRue County, Hodgenville, Ky., and John Martin, superintendent and director of the Norfolk County Agricultural High School in Walpole, Mass.

Both men spent five hours this week on campus as part of their interviews. The visits including faculty meetings.

“It was a really good way to get to know them,” Sipala said. “They got to see our schools. They learned some of our needs. They interacted with staff and students.”

According to Sipala, who has served in her interim role since July 2023 following Ken Duva’s resignation, the district received 14 applications. A 10-member search committee, after interviewing five of those applicants, forwarded Raleigh and Martin to the school board for their final interviews.

Serving on the search committee were Town Administrator Ed Mello, Lawn School principal Nate Edmunds and the district’s director of student services, Erica Dickson. Lawn fifth-grader teacher Michele Desrosiers, Melrose music teacher Erin Preston and the district’s instructional coach, Jen Kittredge, also served.

Christina Smith and Lisa Tuttle represented the Parent Teacher Organization and Jamestown Education Foundation, respectively. Tony Rafanelli and North Kingstown freshman Abby Tighe rounded out the committee.

Although Sipala was present for all the interviews, she did not vote.

“I organized the search,” she said. “I helped guide the conversation.”

Sipala also successfully recommended for the full-time superintendent to become a part-time position. The annual salary for the 140-day position will be $90,000 with $41,000 in benefits, about $75,000 less than the full-time model.

Sipala, who served as superintendent in Jamestown from 2002-06, made a recommendation 17 years ago for her successor to be hired on a half-time basis working 90 days. By the time Duva was hired in 2016, however, the position had reverted to a full-time post with a 220-day schedule.

The new hire’s workload will be in between the half-time and fulltime roles. Since Sipala was hired, she works about three days a week during the academic year and two days a week in the summer. This schedule is roughly what a 140-day work year would resemble.

Sipala, despite the scaled-back days, said the job of leading the district should not be considered a part-time commitment.

“I stress that it must be flexible,” she said in December when recommended the 140-day role. “A person must understand that when you’re the superintendent, you’re not the superintendent for three days a week. You’re the superintendent all the time. But that doesn’t mean you have to be physically present.”

— Tim Riel