Second Thought: Why search?

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In the wake of the departure of Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Melinda J. Boone, the city is planning a nationwide search to identify and screen candidates to replace her on a full-time basis.

On Thursday, Oct. 15, by a vote of 4-3, the School Committee chose Chief Academic Officer Marco Rodrigues as the interim superintendent. Rodrigues will begin the interim job after Boone leaves at the end of November.

The split vote was the result of three members of the School Committee, Dianna Biancheria, John Monfredo and Brian O’Connell, supporting current South High Community School Principal Maureen Binienda for the interim job.

Rodrigues has all but declared his interest in the permanent position. It is unclear if Binienda shares this interest.

As we wrote last week, “we believe the choices of Rodrigues and Binienda represent two valid views of the current state of the Worcester Public Schools,” the former representing a positive view of the current administration, the latter a view that there needs to be change.

The clear and unambiguous support of two internal candidates leads us to a simple question about holding a nationwide search: Why?

Many people in the city still speak derisively about the laborious national search and selection process for city manager that ended with Edward M. Augustus Jr. in charge. They do so even after they acknowledge in glowing terms the job he is doing and, perhaps begrudgingly, concede he was the right person for the job all along.

There are at least two valid internal candidates for the position of superintendent of the Worcester Public Schools. Many private companies still post open positions internally before going outside. Additionally, a protracted national search that ends with internal candidates as finalists would do little to restore the public’s faith in local government.

We suggest suspending the national search to offer internal candidates the opportunity to state their cases. If no internal candidates are suitable, then conduct a national search.

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