It’s been so long since Chelsea has sought
out a new superintendent that there isn’t even a current job description.
For so many years, Boston University (BU)
appointed a superintendent as it ran the public schools for decades, and when
current Supt. Mary Bourque came into the role, it was long-decided that she
would succeed former Supt. Tom Kingston – the last BU appointee.
Now, for the first time in 30 or 40 years,
the School Committee will be tasked with finding a new leader for the public
“This is all new to all of us,” said Chair
Rich Maronski. “It’s even new to the School Department. They don’t even have a
job description for superintendent. They have to create one now, which tells
you how long it’s been.”
Bourque said the Collins Center was most
recently used by the schools to hire Monica Lamboy, the business administrator
who took the place of Gerry McCue. She said it was also used to hire City
Manager Tom Ambrosino and former City Manager Jay Ash.
“The first couple of steps will go slowly,
but from the middle of February to May it will be intense,” she said. “I can’t
be involved in it then. I’ll be more of the logistics part. There is a lot of
community input, but it’s a School Committee decision. Chelsea hasn’t had a
search since before BU…One interesting point is we don’t have any internal
candidates. In Revere, Supt. Paul Dakin was succeeded by an internal candidate,
Dianne Kelly. None of our internal candidates feel they are ready to move up.
Because of that, it’s going to be an outside candidate.”
Maronski, Supt. Bourque and the rest of the
Committee met with the Collins Center last Thursday, Jan. 10, to go over the
timelines and parameters of the upcoming search.
“It’s all structured by the Collins Center,”
he said. “They are looking at the May 2 School Committee meeting for us to vote
on this. That would be the first Thursday in May. I believe they will want to
get it done by June because that’s a very busy month for us. I think the
Collins Center is pretty good. They had all the dates worked out and structured
for us. That helps.”
The notice of a job opening will go out on
Feb. 8, and focus groups of teachers, staff, parents and community groups will
form about the same time. They will be charged with coming up with a candidate
profile that will be used by a Screening Committee to review all of the
The Screening Committee will be selected by
the School Committee on March 7, and it will be made up of appointed members,
including City Manager Tom Ambrosino, parents and teachers.
They will conduct private interviews of
candidates in April, and they will forward a public list of finalists to the
Committee around April 4. Community forums and public interviews will take
place from April 22 to 25.
A contract is proposed to be signed by May
Bourque said she will remain on through
December 2019 so that she can mentor the new person and help transition them
into the “Chelsea way.” Since it will be an outside candidate, she said that
will be critical.
“Chelsea has a very strong reputation and coming
in with a solid transition plan with the exiting superintendent to help them is
something people will like,” she said. “At the same time, it is an urban district
and it is a complex district. Some people don’t like that, others do.”
The School Committee voted last Thursday at
its meeting to employ the Collins Center from the University of Massachusetts-Boston
to assist in the search for a new superintendent of schools.
At the same time, the Committee put an
aggressive timeline on the search, looking to have a candidate chosen by July
New Committee Chair Rich Maronski said they
felt the Collins Center did a good job with the City Manager search a few years
ago. He said they plan to have a retreat meeting with the Center this week to
understand the search parameters and to get things started.
Supt. Mary Bourque announced in late
December that she planned on retiring in one year’s time, putting a date of
December 2019 as her final month. She has pledged to stay on to help with the
search and to acclimate any new candidate to the job through next fall.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he was sad
to see Bourque go, but is encouraged by the Committee’s quick action on the
“Selfishly, I’m sad because Superintendent
Bourque has done a tremendous job as leader of the Chelsea School System, and
her and I had a very productive partnership,” he said. “However, she is
certainly deserving of her well-earned retirement. As for the search, I
was pleased to hear that the School Committee has agreed both to hire the UMass
Collins Center to help with the search for a successor, and to hire a Superintendent
for July 1 so that the person will be able to work together with Mary for the
first six months to establish a smooth transition.”
on the start of the search and the process is expected by next week, Maronski
A senior associate from the Collins Center at UMass Boston has been chosen as the new School Department executive director of Administration and Finance, replacing long-time director Gerry McCue – who will retire this summer after 26 years at the post.
Monica Lamboy, a Charlestown resident, has accepted the position and will start on July 1 in the critical School Department position.
“In these changing times in our City and within our schools, Ms. Lamboy’s extensive background in financial and administrative management, organizational development, strategic and long range planning for both municipalities and for schools makes her uniquely qualified to step into the position of Executive Director of Administration and Finance,” wrote Supt. Mary Bourque.
Lamboy holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Princeton University and a Masters in City and Regional Planning from the University of California. For the last seven years, she has worked as a Senior Associate for the University of Massachusetts, Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management.
The Collins Center was the same organization used to conduct and choose the City Manager in Chelsea a few years ago.
As Senior Associate at the Collins Center, Lamboy has served as team leader working with municipal and school executives, and elected officials across the state on finance-related efforts including financial forecasts, financial policies, and capital improvement plans. Her organizational studies and strategic planning projects include economic development plans and trend reports which analyzed changes in population, business, housing, transportation, and infrastructure. She has led a team for the Brookline public schools that studied the district’s central administration, instructional and educational programs, special education, information technology functions, and salary structures all with recommended changes for efficiency and efficacy.
Prior to her work with the Collins Center she served the City of Somerville, District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.), and the City of Oakland in multiple departments and in various capacities. In the City of Oakland, she served as Special Assistant to the Superintendent for Business Services for the Oakland Unified School District.
City Councillor Brian Hatleberg said he has taken the baton from Council President Leo Robinson and is ready to run with it in terms of choosing the all-important Screening Committee for the City Manager selection process.
Robinson designated Hatleberg the chair of the Committee last week, and he joins three other councillors, including Joe Perlatonda, Calvin Brown and Dan Cortell. This week, Hatleberg said a schedule has been outlined and he and his colleagues are ready to choose the best and brightest in the City to serve on the panel. The panel, known as the Screening Committee, will be charged to work with the Collins Center to weed out resumes in intensive executive (private) sessions. They will likely take 30 or 40 resumes and whittle them down to four or five finalists.
Hatleberg said getting just the right people will be paramount.
“I can tell you already we have probably had about 10 resumes submitted and 50 people express interest in some way, shape or form for this Screening Committee,” he said. “The goal is to put in place a Screening Committee that broadly represents the community from many perspectives. It is something like a ‘Blue Chip Panel’ that everyone in the community can look at, recognize and say, ‘I trust those guys.’…It will be people with some pretty deep experience.”
Hatleberg said his Committee will choose four people.
A fifth member of the Committee will be former Lowell City Manager Bernie Lynch, who will serve voluntarily to provide perspective from a former city manager. Lynch participated in a public forum in January put on by several non-profits to discuss the duties and properties of a good city manager.
“We brought him in on this because we want someone who has been a city manager and has perspective as to what it takes to execute the details of the job,” he said.
The process will happen fast, Hatleberg said.
“We will present a slate of four people to the City Council for a vote on March 23 for the Screening Committee,” he said. “The deadline for city manager applications to be in is March 31 so our Committee will need to be ready to go by then.”
That means time is of the essence for anyone interested in serving on the Committee.
Hatleberg said he has scheduled a meeting for March 9, after the regular City Council meeting, to begin public discussion of the Screening Committee. Another meeting will happen the next day on March 10 for any carryover issues.
“The goal right now is to get the message out to the public that if anyone has interest in being on the Screening Committee, we are asking them to send us a letter of interest, a resume or something like that before that March 9 meeting,” he said.
Before putting one’s name in the hat for consideration, the time commitment must be considered.
Hatleberg said it would be about a 20-hour commitment in a very compressed time period.
Once all of the applications are in, he said the Collins Center would probably conduct an entire weekend, Saturday and Sunday, of off-site interviews with candidates.
The would also be two weekly meetings to commit to.
Anyone who is interested in being considered for the Screening Committee should e-mail a letter of interest and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are rolling,” Hatleberg said. “The Collins Center has pamphlet out there and the ads are out there. The position of city manager is being advertised now.”
The City Council has continued to deal with snowstorms and cancellations this week as yet another Council meeting on Monday went down to the snow, and now the Council hopes to tackle everything on Tuesday, Feb. 17.
With several key votes within the City Manager search yet to be taken, the backlog would seriously begin to threaten the timeline if yet another meeting is cancelled.
“We need to get rolling; time is of the essence now,” said Council President Leo Robinson. “People think we’re dragging our feet, but we have had snowstorms every Monday night since the last week of January and City Hall has been closed several days also. It has made things difficult.”
Typically, the coming week would have been a non-meeting week for the Council in order to mark President’s Day on Monday. However, Robinson said they needed to make sure some votes – including the appointment of a special Council committee to choose the City Manager Screening Committee members – were taken, and so he called for the meeting on the day after President’s Day, Feb. 17.
In addition to the Committee vote, the Council will also take up a vote on a pamphlet of priorities and qualities given out to prospective City Manager applicants.
There will also be the matter of voting on the $20,000 fee for the Collins Center, which is leading the City Manager search process.
Meanwhile, a vote is also expected to extend the work on two of the new hotels.
“We have to build back the momentum we had before all of this, and we’ll start doing that Tuesday night,” said Robinson.
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The City Council will meet on Monday and try to do some catch up after having had to cancel two previous meetings due to snow emergencies.
The two snow cancellations corresponded with what was expected to be the first two important votes in moving along the process for hiring a new city manager. On Jan. 26, the Council was expected to vote on a document to hand out to prospective applicants, and on Feb. 2, the Council was expected to vote on a committee charged with selecting the Screening Committee.
Neither of those votes took place, and with more snow predicted on this coming Monday, Council President Leo Robinson said emergency measure might need to be taken.
“We’re going to meet Monday night and try to take up all the business we missed,” he said. “We’re hoping we can meet and not get snowed out again. We’ll have to call for a special meeting if we do because we need to get the Screening Committee going and we need to approve the planning document so we can start getting some applications in.”
Robinson said once the Council has voted on the group of Councillors charged with choosing the Screening Committee, he doesn’t see it as a long process.
He said many folks in the community have already begun submitting applications and names to be considered for the committee.
“We’re going to be able to make up the time we lost and this won’t set us back,” he said. “Once the special committee selects the Screening Committee – which should only take about two meetings – they’ll start meeting with the Collins Center to review and receive resumes. I don’t think it will take that long to do.”
The Council is expected to meet on Monday, Feb. 9.
The Collins Center has begun interviewing city councillors this week to start crafting a public document of priorities and qualities that will be sent out to any potential candidates for the permanent city manager position, according to Stephen McGoldrick and Dick Kobayashi of the Center.
At a public forum at Bunker Hill Community College, Council President Leo Robinson – flanked by most of his Council colleagues – unveiled an official timeline for the search process.
That process, McGoldrick said, has already started with interviews of councillors about what they would like to see in a City Manager. Those interviews will be used in an official public document announcing the opening – a document that Robinson said would include input from the public to councillors.
“We conducted three [Council] interviews today and we’ll conduct four on Thursday and expect to be done with all of them by the middle of next week,” said McGoldrick. “We’re looking at a draft to be presented to the Council at its January 26 meeting. They’ll get input and then I’d like to have the Council vote on that publicly at their first meeting in February. It would be good to have a screening committee appointed at that time also to get it out of the way.”
Robinson reiterated that the Council is “equal to the task” of running the process openly and transparently and successfully – something he said at length in his presidential acceptance speech last week.
He said he would be appointing a group of city councillors to form the initial membership of the Screening Committee.
“That committee hasn’t been appointed yet, but I will be appointing three councillors who will be on the Screening Committee,” he said. “They will decide the chair and they will go out into the community and find others to participate on that Committee and they will be appointed. We’ll vote to accept or not accept that Committee at the February meeting.”
The Screening Committee has been heavily discussed at Council and outside of City Hall quite a lot lately, and mostly because it will serve to whittle down the applicants in private, executive session meetings.
It is the only part of the process that won’t be completely open to the public, and the reason being that preliminary applicants often won’t apply to a job opening if their names aren’t kept confidential. That’s because many might already be in good positions, and if they aren’t chosen as finalists, they don’t want to jeopardize their jobs.
Both McGoldrick and Kobayashi said a Screening Committee is a common part of almost all of the 35 city manager searches they have conducted.
Some names for that Committee have been batted around, but as of now Robinson said there is nothing official to report. He will make the decision in the coming weeks.
Additionally, anyone with interest in serving on the Committee should contact the City Council via telephone or via the Council e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). The membership on the Committee will be limited, so not everyone who expresses interest will be chosen. Kobayashi has recommended that the Committee be made up of about 12 to 15 people from all segments of the city – though City Hall employees are discouraged from being on that Committee.
Kobayashi said the Center and the Committee will convene in earnest after initial applications are received, for which the deadline is March 15.
The Committee will meet at least twice a week after March 15. It is expected they could get as many as 30 qualified applicants by that deadline. The Collins Center and the Committee will be charged with whittling that number down to a short list of three to five finalists.
That work will be done in private, as mentioned above, but the short list will be public.
“The Committee will have a lot of work before it and there is no set date for that work to be done, but when the finalists are recommended, that will begin a public process,” said McGoldrick. “We’re shooting for that to happen at some point in May. “Depending on how long the City Council takes to make their selection from that list of finalists, we’re looking at a June or July appointment.”
Kobayashi said the Collins Center has conducted 35 city manager searches and all but one of those persons placed through those searches is still in the job.
“We believe our method and track record is very good,” he said.
One thing was understood by everyone in the audience, and that was the fact that the process was going to really begin ramping up and going much faster in the coming weeks. While late December and early January have been slower times for the process, the timeline indicated that things will begin picking up rapidly.