Looking at the News

The next superintendent

By Josh Resnek

Thursday the city will find out who the next superintendent of the Everett Public Schools is going to be.

Barring any last minute histrionics, parliamentary diversions or an outright revolution, one of three finalists will be chosen to be the school superintendent for the next three years.

Thomas Stewart, one of the four original finalists has dropped out of the running because he was named to a job elsewhere and accepted the position.

I wish him the best.

He may have made a fabulous superintendent here. We will never know.

We do know Stuart made a powerful case to the Superintendent Choice Committee (SCC) about how badly he wanted to come here to be the superintendent. He impressed the SCC. They were eager to have him.

Now he’s gone.

This leaves three finalists from which the winner will ultimately be chosen and publicly announced on Thursday by the SCC.

Saturday the finalists presented themselves to the public.

To a person, Thomas Flanagan, Priya Tahiliani and Attorney Paul Toner are bright, articulate, thoughtful candidates.

School Committee insiders claim that Attorney Toner, from Cambridge, who has represented the state teachers’ union as its head, is the desired choice, the so-called hands down favorite to succeed acting superintendent Janice Gauthier.

The general feeling, as expressed by groups of the city’s teachers, is that Toner will have their backs if he is the winner of the selection process.

Everett’s 600 teachers are mostly quiet. The ones who speak out among the 600, about 20 of that number, are for Toner.

For them he can’t get here fast enough.

This makes common sense. He has negotiated statewide contracts for teachers and so it is natural to believe teachers will feel an affinity for him and what he can do, more importantly, for them.

We cannot foresee what he will be like as an administrator of a sprawling school system such as Everett’s. But he is very likely able to handle it.

Will he excel at it? Will he live for it everyday? Will he love it? Will it be his lifetime dream come true? How long will he last?

These are all possible but very unlikely.

How long he will last is perhaps the most interesting question to debate.

He won’t last 30 years or 20 years. It is highly improbably he will last five years.

Three years is what he will get and then he will move on because Toner’s career is spreading out in front of him.

This is not a final move, nor should it be.

If he isn’t named, the insiders are all agreeing, Tahaliani has the edge. She impressed many of the locals as being razor sharp with brightness and ideas flowing from her. She spoke with and verve and some knowledge. Her supporters could feel her positive energy and enthusiasm.

She just might do an end run on Toner.

The third finalist, Thomas Flanagan, has received the least of the public talk one picks up in circles throughout this city.

Yet, he too, is bright and articulate, sensitive and forward thinking. He plays well in the public forum. He, too, is filled with ideas.

A last minute play by the School Committee could change the course of the SCC by it naming whomever it wants instead of who the SCC has chosen.

However, the political will to challenge the SCC does not appear to be active at this time among a majority of School Committee members.

Local candidates not given an interview by the SCC remain angered and disappointed by a selection process that did not include them.

Mrs. Gauthier has publicly expressed her outrage and bitterness about not being interviewed. Assistant Superintendent Charlie Obremski has not publicly done so, but it is believed he, too, is deeply disappointed.

In many circles, the non interviewed school administrator man of the hour is Assistant head of Everett High School, Dr. Omar Easy.

There are many who believe he would have been the ideal choice.

A hero to local youth, a Haitian man who grew up here, who played athletics here, who excelled at academics, who later played in the National Football League, who returned to

Everett and who is very pleased to be giving back.

Some believe his knowledge of the city and its people, and especially of the students and of the administrative system, and of educational modalities and necessity made him the ideal candidate.

Many believe a highly qualified, successful, married family man with children, a man of color and ethnicity managing a vast public school system whose population is 92% of color and ethnicity, is a time that might have arrived.

Without the mayor pushing his weight around to give justice to such an idea, it is going nowhere – and that’s too bad.

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