To the editor:
Salem Superintendent Stephen Russell paints a rosy picture of the plans to expand the school day at Collins Middle School. What he doesn’t mention is that the school has no principal. Who does he expect will provide the leadership to ensure this radical and needed change is successful? How can he, and the School Committee, expect parents and taxpayers to embrace this ambitious and expensive plan when we don’t even know who’s in charge?
The recent history of the Salem Public Schools has shown how important effective principals are for successful schools. It has equally shown how detrimental ineffective or absent leadership is to a school.
Parents, students and staff are justifiably anxious about this lack of leadership, as well as by the lack of communication about why the principal selection process is stalled. Last fall, the department held a series of meetings trumpeting a new consulting contract that promised to bring in scores of highly qualified, eager candidates for the open principals jobs in the system.
How much money did the city pay these consultants and exactly what did we get in return? At least one position, Collins, is still open. Another, Bowditch, was filled by an in-house candidate. The third, Bates, has also appointed a candidate who was already working there. By any counting, those consultants don’t seem to have done much to earn their substantial fee. And most importantly, our middle school is still without a principal.