In what was reported to be a heated debate, ending with a spilt vote, Assistant Superintendent Marie Galinski was chosen last night as the next Superintendent of the Beverly Schools. Details of her contract are not clear at this point.
The Salem News reports a vote of 6-4 in favor of Galinski, which doesn't seem to add up, as there are only seven members of the School Committee. From our sources on the Committee the actual voting went like this:
In the initial vote for the other candidate (Marc Kerble, the current Assistant Superintendent in Winchester), the vote was 3 in favor (Mayor Scanlon, Maria Decker, and David Manzi), and 4 against. Once he was rejected, the Committee voted on Galinski, who won with a vote of 4-2, with Mayor Scanlon abstaining.
After the vote, Mayor Scanlon and School Committee Vice President Maria Decker reportedly left the contract discussions before the others.
Some more details of the contentious vote, as reported in today's Salem News:
The decision came after more than two hours of discussion, some of it heated, and much of it focused on the differences in leadership styles: "direct and authoritative" in Galinski's case and "relationship building" in Kerble's case, Ward 4 representative Karen Fogarty said.
"I'm very concerned about her ability to connect with people in the community," said Fogarty, who ultimately cast a vote in Galinski's favor...
..."We have two candidates who I think in almost all the important places are largely similar," Fogarty said. "It's coming down to issues of personality and character."...
...School Committee President Annemarie Cesa said she heard strong support from teachers, principals and administrators in the district who work with Galinski on a regular basis, and applauded her work on curriculum and MCAS scores.
"She's been more or less behind the scenes," said Ward 2 representative Paul Manzo, who pointed out that's the nature of the assistant superintendent's job. "But the administrators that know her know there's much more there than what we see. She's never served as a public figure, but they think she has it in her."
While most reports do suggest that Galinski has strong support from school staff and adminstrators, what is less clear is her ability to handle the public relations aspects of the job, and connect with the community.
The community focus group report, conducted before the search, identified "inspirational leadership," "being visible in the city" and "building strong relationships" as important qualities for the next Superinendent.
This is where many thought Kerble stood out.
Administrators from Winchester described him as "bright," "sincere," and "a people person with great integrity," she said.
Scanlon agreed, saying, "They didn't know if they'd have to hire two or three people to replace this guy," and Fogarty said one person called him "a teacher whisperer." [a reference to the Dog Whisperer, we assume]
"He apparently is able to get from teachers what they didn't even know they possessed," [said Fogerty]. "I'm concerned if Dr. Galinski were the superintendent, she could walk on water and it wouldn't be good enough for our community,"
Seemingly mindful that many in the city will feel that this decision was made as soon as Hayes announced his retirement, and that the interview process was just for show, Cesa said that it was important that the committee had conducted a nationwide search before making its choice.
"This decision was not made seven months ago," she said. "It was made after a lot of hard work by a lot of people."
Galinski told the Salem News after the vote that "The role will be much more communications and relationship building with the community... I'm looking forward to working with all the constituents.