EAST PROVIDENCE — Kim Mercer will officially take charge of the East Providence School System as the new superintendent on Monday, March 25, School Committee Chairman Joel Monteiro has confirmed.
Mr. Monteiro and the rest of the five-member committee last week formally approved Ms. Mercer’s hire as the new superintendent of schools, ending an 18-month stretch of interim personnel guiding the department.
The East Providence Budget Commission, which while still seated holds final approval of all hires, indicated at its previous meeting on Feb. 28 it would hand back control of the system’s finances and administration to the School Committee. The Commission will vote on Ms. Mercer’s hire at what is scheduled to be its final meeting in charge of the city on March 28, though that acknowledgement is seen as ceremonial in nature. Ms. Mercer is indeed the new superintendent of East Providence schools.
“It still officially needs Budget Commission approval, but from how I understood it at the last (Commission) meeting we were given the authority to make the hire. And with (Budget Commission Chairman) Diane Brennan having served with me and the others on the (superintendent) search committee, it’s already been given her stamp of approval so to speak,” Mr. Monteiro explained.
Ms. Mercer, who comes to the department off of 11 years as the Deputy Superintendent of Pawtucket Schools, takes the reins from Dr. John DeGoes, who has served in the role since August of 2012. Edward Daft similarly served as interim schools chief for the previous year in the stead of former super Mario Cirillo, placed on administrative leave from the post by the then-school committee back in the summer of 2011.
“Ms. Mercer will be the superintendent as of March 25. Dr. DeGoes told me that and he has no problem with it,” Mr. Monteiro said.
A one-week transition period begins that day. Dr. DeGoes will work with Ms. Mercer over the five-day period and will remain available for consultation if needed, Mr. Monteiro added.
“She’ll be able to sit down with Dr. DeGoes during the week to hash out some things, but as of March 25 she’ll be ready to go,” Mr. Monteiro said of Ms. Mercer. “She’ll be visiting the schools. I know she met with the principal (Janet Sheehan) and toured the high school last week. She’ll hit the ground running.”
About to be firmly back in oversight of the department, Mr. Monteiro said the School Committee’s main order of business will be providing the new superintendent with the administrative support her predecessors have been lacking for well over a year.
“I think the first thing that needs to happen on March 25 is we need to start filling out the empty administration,” Mr. Monteiro explained. “We need to hire a Director of Education, which is basically an assistant superintendent. We need to find a curriculum coordinator and we need to find a Director of Pupil Services. We’ve had an interim person (Cheryl Ursillo) in the position, but we really need to get that filled permanently.”
The ability to hire personnel to fill those positions should be accomplished rather quickly, the chairman continued, as the process is already well underway.
“The good thing is those jobs have been posted and I’m told there are plenty of qualified applicants for Ms. Mercer to choose from so she can begin to build her team,” Mr. Monteiro added. “We need to get the administration in place as soon as we can because you can’t initiate a gameplan if people aren’t there to execute it.”