Rockport hasn't yet named its next superintendent of schools.
The School Committee's public interviews for the three finalists are set for tonight starting at 6:30, in the Rockport Middle High/School library. And once the committee hears the finalists' answers and decides on a top candidate, there may be contractual and other hurdles to sort out as well.
But no matter what happens next, it's difficult not to absolutely marvel at the manner in which the town's ad-hoc Schools Superintendent Search Committee has gone about this work.
Consider: Current Superintendent Susan King just announced in January that she would be retiring at the end of the current school year. Yet, in barely two months, this committee — 15 volunteers chaired by tireless education advocate Pamela Brindamour — has already presented the School Committee finalists out of 47 applicants. And if all goes well, Rockport should have an incoming superintendent working for at least a few weeks alongside King to ensure a smooth transition.
Now, compare that to the search for a new fire chief in Gloucester, where, despite knowing the retirement date for interim chief Phil Dench a year in advance — and despite having a search ordinance in place since January 2011 — the city still has not even reached public interview stage for what could be up to seven finalists. And that's with the help of a paid consulting firm!
Mayor Carolyn Kirk has blamed the fire chief search delays on the complexities of the ordinance — and that's a factor. But it's also clear that the city officials who should be driving this search have simply not given it the priority it deserves — or the commitment shown by Rockport's 15 volunteers.
They not only deserve credit for a job well done; their efforts are a model for many others to follow.