SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

July 14, 2009

Swampscott school board preps for Malone departure

By Alan Burke

SWAMPSCOTT — The School Committee is ready to hit the ground running in the quest to find a new superintendent. The work should begin at Thursday's meeting, member Glenn Paster said.

Colleague Joseph Crimmins hopes his board will use the same search procedure recently used to find a new high school principal. More importantly, he wants a process that produces a superintendent who will continue the policies instituted by outgoing Superintendent Matt Malone.

"You need leadership," Crimmins said, and an educational philosophy "that meshes with what Dr. Malone and his team have done over the past few years."

A professional recruiter and a search committee including teachers, administrators, parents and perhaps even a student could begin the hunt for Malone's replacement, he said. Crimmins anticipates the hiring of an interim superintendent while the search is ongoing.

In addition, Malone himself is bound by his contract to stay for up to four months if the board needs him.

"Matt Malone is not leaving town," Paster said. "Brockton knew about this. ... He's not going anywhere unless something happens in the next four months."

Malone announced his intention to take the Brockton job in a statement released last week. He promised to work closely with the school board during the transition.

"I want to thank the faculty, staff and Swampscott community for all their support over the past four years of my tenure," he wrote. "They have each helped me to become a better leader and a better person. I consider each of them my friend, and I look forward to watching the work they will continue to do to support the learning and teaching of children in the Swampscott Public Schools."

"I'm very happy for him," Paster said, noting that the huge Brockton system represents a step up professionally.

"I'm very thankful to Dr. Malone," Crimmins said.

Malone served Swampscott during a period of economic peril, with the schools forced to make dozens of layoffs. He was criticized by teachers and staff for his handling of the matter. Moreover, in the past few years he made no secret of his ambition to lead a large, urban school system.

Both Paster and Crimmins expressed optimism regarding the future of the Swampscott schools. For his part, Crimmins is hopeful that the town will soon emerge from its economic difficulties.

"There is no fat in the system," he said.

In the meantime, Paster said, "The school district is in great hands."

Comparing districts

SwampscottBrockton

Students 2,27915,312

Teachers1721,107

Schools523

* 2008-09 school year

Source: Mass Department of Education Web site