Editorial: The superintendent is gone ... Now what?

Posted 6/27/19

In comments shared out of the spotlight, outgoing Superintendent of Schools Mario Andrade said the Bristol Warren school district is in great shape, but damaged, and its highest priority right now is …

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Editorial: The superintendent is gone ... Now what?

Posted

In comments shared out of the spotlight, outgoing Superintendent of Schools Mario Andrade said the Bristol Warren school district is in great shape, but damaged, and its highest priority right now is to heal.

The damage was inflicted over the past year by a cadre of angry parents and Facebook posters; an embarrassing rebuke from teachers who staged a “sickout” in January; mini-protests and petitions calling for his removal; police officers stationed at Kickemuit Middle School; and school committee members who wanted his head on a platter.

In the end, the detractors won. They drove away a leader who oversaw a small nest of problems, but who was articulate, intelligent, devoted to the district and passionate about seeing students and teachers achieve great things. He was involved in these communities and highly regarded by many, but he’s gone now, and it’s time to turn the page.

Where does the district go from here?

Superintendents these days can be hired guns — educated people with big resumés and big accomplishments who command big compensation and bounce from post to post. Is that what the school committee is looking for, or do they favor homegrown talent — someone who knows the communities and people of Bristol and Warren intimately?

Do they want an authority figure to instill discipline and enforce policies that critics say are lacking?

Do they want an educator to bring energy and innovation to the classrooms?

Do they want a proven fiscal manager to solve chronic financial problems (for what it’s worth, there’s a fiscal crisis looming next year)?

The nine members of the school committee have an opportunity to choose a new leader — their own — to carry forth their vision for the schools. Do they have one?

The best way for the school committee to hire the right superintendent, is to know what it’s looking for. And if it does not have a vision, it needs one before the first “help wanted” ad is posted.

It may also help to involve the critics in the process, from listening to them, to even including them in a search committee. Collectively, the critics and the school committee drove the last guy out of town. They owe it to the families of Bristol and Warren to find the right replacement.

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.