With the impending retirement of current Assistant Superintendent John Kerrigan, the school committee unanimously appointed Alden School principal Susan Skeiber to assume the role on an interim basis next year. With the impending retirement of current Assistant Superintendent John Kerrigan, the school committee unanimously appointed Alden School principal Susan Skeiber to assume the role on an interim basis next year.

Skeiber’s appointment will last during the 2004-2005 school year as the department conducts a search for a permanent replacement.{sidebar id=4}

At Wednesday’s school committee meeting, Superintendent Eileen Williams recommended Skeiber to committee members as an ideal candidate for the position given her educational experience and her dual role as Alden principal and director of the schools’ professional development program.  As part of the reconfigured role of the assistant superintendent, said Williams, professional development will fall under that job description and she felt Skeiber was “well schooled in that area.”

“I have no qualms with her being second-in-command,” said Williams, who recommended a pay range of $95,000-100,000 for both Skeiber and the eventual full-time replacement.

Wednesday’s meeting featured both support for Skeiber in the form of teachers and colleagues who lauded her professionalism and dedication to learning, as well as detractors not against the person, but instead the position and its pay.

Committee member John Magnarelli said that while Skeiber was well qualified, he was concerned that her non-competitive appointment would also have a “cascading effect” at Alden producing another non-competitive replacement.

“I understand the practice of ëfilling from within’Öbut I want to make sure we open this up for competition as soon as possible to get the best possible candidate,” he said.  “I’m a little upset that we will go a year with a temporary [person] when we could’ve advertised this earlier, knowing that John [Kerrigan] was retiring.”

Magnarelli also expressed his concern over the pay range suggested by Williams, making a motion that the committee approve Skeiber at a $95,000 salary instead.{sidebar id=1}

“This is a good salary,” he said.  “This is an increase for Ms. Skeiber and going to $100,000 is not much lower than what Kerrigan got two years ago.  To put someone new in at the same salary as [Kerrigan] with six years experience is not [fair].”

The committee voted down this amendment by a vote of 1-5 with Magnarelli the only yea vote.

Members of the public also expressed their concerns, not with Skeiber, but in the way the position was being filled.

Resident Jeanne Clark of Surplus Street said she did not understand the need for so many assistant positions in the schools and felt the committee should take “a good look at your organizational chart” and suggested the assistant superintendent position be filled on a rotating basis by different administrators within the system.

Committee member Paul Desmond said that both before and after the reconfiguration of the position, that an assistant superintendent was “critical to a system this size” and didn’t think a rotation was a good idea.

“A 747 can fly itself, but they still put two men or women in the cockpit to fly it,” he said.

Parent Kathy Bittrich voiced her concern that the move was being made to appoint Skeiber without public information similar to previous moves that night on the school calendar and leveling (see related stories).

“You are establishing a theme of not giving enough time for thoughtful community [input] and the community does not feel part of the process,” she said.  “Plus you have, for better lack of a term, two ëlame duck’ school committee members making these decisions.”

Chairwoman Carol Love, who along with Neil Johnson attended their last meeting as committee members, felt there were none better than those who’ve worked with Skeiber for years to make the decision.

The committee then voted unanimously to appoint Skeiber as the interim assistant superintendent effective as of Kerrigan’s retirement at the end of the school year and set the salary for the position at between $95,000 and $100,000.

Skeiber has worked in the town’s school system since 1995, serving two years as assistant principal at Duxbury Elementary School, two years as DMS assistant principal and is entering her fifth year as Alden’s principal.

In other business at Wednesday’s meeting, the school committee:

*Voted unanimously not to take part in the school choice initiative.

*Recognized the last meeting of Love and Johnson with words of praise and gifts of plaques featuring gavels for both outgoing members of the school committee.

*Announced they have received seven proposals for a new law firm.  Love said that the committee’s budget subcommittee will look at the options and report back to the full group in the future.