EAST PROVIDENCE — The Post and eastbayri.com have confirmed various media reports Kim Mercer is the frontrunner to take over the position of East Providence Schools Superintendent on a permanent basis, though to say she has been hired for the position is premature, according to School Committee Chairman Joel Monteiro.
Speaking by phone Saturday afternoon, Feb. 16, Mr. Monteiro said Ms. Mercer, currently the Deputy Superintendent of Schools in Pawtucket, emerged from the interview process as the leading candidate to replace Interim East Providence Superintendent Dr. John DeGoes.
“I’ve seen and heard some of the reports that Ms. Mercer has the job, but she has neither been chosen for or offered the position as of yet,” Mr. Monteiro clarified. “We’re in the final stages of the process. We as a search committee looked at some candidates. We brought a few in for second interviews, and she performed well in those interviews.”
Ms. Mercer has held her role in Pawtucket for the last 11 years. Mr. Monteiro said her proximity to East Providence and her knowledge of what is a similar community were two of Ms. Mercer’s main attributes.
“There weren’t a lot of seasoned applicants for the position. I think part of that has to do with our current position,” Mr. Monteiro conceded, referring to the city being run by the Budget Commission state overseers.
“I think we all agreed we didn’t want to hire any retirees, someone who was just going to be here to pad their pensions,” Mr. Monteiro added. “We were also looking at ‘jumpers,’ someone who may not be around for a long period of time. We were looking for stability. We need someone who is going to rebuild what is basically an empty administration.”
The likely next step in the process is to bring Ms. Mercer in front of the School Committee, her potential employees and residents for a public session. Mr. Monteiro said a tentative date has been set for the forum, Wednesday, Feb. 27, in one of the school auditoriums, possibly either the high school or Martin Middle School.
“This event is the best attempt I was able to make to give the community some kind of involvement in the process,” Mr. Monteiro said, adding he will seek input from school staff, administrators and the teachers’ union about questions they would like to be asked of Ms. Mercer.
Mr. Monteiro was part of the search committee set up by the Commission, which included Budget chair Diane Brennan, Interim City Human Resources Director Heather Martino and two other state-wide school officials. They reached their decision to proceed with Ms. Mercer as the top choice within the last few days.
“Hopefully, with Mr. Mercer’s experience and her familiarity with the demographics of our city, we’ll be able to finish this process and start rebuilding our school department,” Mr. Monteiro added.