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Wakefield Selects New Interim Superintendent

Dr. Garry Murphy will start in Wakefield on August 1st pending contract negotiations.

A retired superintendent with school construction, mentoring, and curriculum development experience has been selected to lead Wakefield Public Schools for the next year, according to a vote by the School Committee last week. 

Dr. Garry Murphy, of Lowell, MA, was the first choice of the School Committee out of three finalists for the interim superintendent position. Pending contract negotiations, Dr. Murphy would start in Wakefield on Aug. 1.

But before the selection is final, the School Committee must still negotiate Dr. Murphy's year-long contract. That negotiation and subsequent vote will take place on Tuesday, July 24.

According to Murphy's resume that was submitted to the School Committee, he has 13 years of experience as a school superintendent, one year of experience as an interim superintendent, and also has experience as a school business administrator, a curriculum developer and as a teacher. 

Wakefield School Committee Chairman Tom Markham said one of the unique aspects of Dr. Murphy's application was that he expressed interest in providing not only his own services, but the services of a "leadership team," as well. The team consists of Dr. Murphy, who would serve as interim superintendent, and Dr. Sandra Holloran, also a retired superintendent, who would serve as interim assistant superintendent.

"They would work their schedule so that neither of them would be working full-time," said Markham. "Dr. Murphy would work 3-4 days a week and Dr. Holloran would work 2-3 days a week to ensure that we had 100 percent coverage."

Markham said this approach would be useful to Wakefield in getting two experienced administrators to guide the schools through this time of transition, for the salary of one.

"It's always better to bring in two top administrators when you can," he said. "Both are retired superintendents, both are curriculum leaders, and both are strong in areas of the types of things we're looking to do."

Mike July 20, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Sounds strange having 2 part time leaders. Curious why there was t enough time to find a full replacement. Our school system should be a little project testing superintendent by committee
Mike July 20, 2012 at 01:23 PM
I meant to say that it's an important job that SHOULDN'T be a 2 person part time project.
Dave Gray July 20, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Unless I am mistaken, were either to exceed the the difference between their pension and what would have been their salary had they not retired, or had exceeded 960 hours, they would forfeit the percentage of their pension that exceeds that difference, per the provisions of GL 32 S 91(a). Having both function part-time avoids that pitfall. Comment?
John Bengtson July 20, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I believe that Dave's assessment regarding pensions is correct. The reason why the Committee went with a Interim first, is that they didn't feel as if there was enough time to choose a qualified replacement in only two months. Given the time of year that the search began, the list of people looking to be a full-time superintendant would have been small.
Lisa Butler August 08, 2012 at 01:55 PM
First of all, this is not a "part time project". Both Dr. Murphy and Dr. Halloran are experienced, extremely qualified, retired superintendents. By law you cannot have co-superintendents, so Dr. Murphy is the interim superintendent and Dr. Halloran the assistant superintendent. They will be working together. This is not an experiment. WE (the school district) get the experience of 2 very qualified superintendents for the price of one. We (the SC) did not have time to conduct a search for a permanent replacement so we went with the interim option. This is a common practice for school districts. Now the SC has time to conduct a search, starting this fall. This will involve talking to staff, parents, teachers, community members about what Wakefield wants for our next leader. We will create a search committee with representation from those same groups and choose the right person to lead the school district and keep our district moving forward. The children deserve that. Given that our school district consists of 3400 students, 400+ staff members and a $26million+ budget, I think the SC is doing the right thing. Our Town deserves that.
Don August 08, 2012 at 04:24 PM
That is 1 staff member for every 8 students. $65000 per staff member. If we go to what other schools have 1 staff member for every 32 students it would cost much less. It would require only 106 staff members 106 times 65K is $6.8 million. Do ya think there is an overstaffing problem here? That is costing us the taxpayers over $19 million and when there is overstaffing, there are plenty of people sitting doing nothing. Lets have some staff reductions and cut our taxes appropriately.
Lisa Butler August 08, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Don, you clearly have never actually looked at the school budget or any school budget. I invite you to get a copy of it and really look at it. Your cost estimates are completely wrong. We don't need staff reductions. You fail to take into account the costs of running a school district. It is not merely staff members, who are quite important. There are technology costs, supplies, special ed costs. We have some students who require out of district services that can cost up to $50k or more per student, plus transportation. Those services are not optional - it's state and federal law. The school committee and school dept. have worked very hard during these economic times to look at all areas for cost savings - and we have achieved it. We've looked at and saved money in areas like busing, energy costs, printing costs, scheduling. I will repeat Don, invite you to get a copy of the school department budget and find out where we can cut. Should we cut teachers who have a class size of 28 students and raise that class size to 30+? Have you sat in on a classroom recently to see what our teachers actually do on a daily basis? You need to become more informed before you make declarations like that.
Don August 08, 2012 at 06:34 PM
They call this paradigm paralysis. Thinking that things always have to be done the same. Also, it is because people are afraid of change. Well, $19M divided by the 25K or so people in town equals about $800 less taxes. If I looked at the budget, lots could be identified that is not necessary. This is just the simple, obvious facts. What are we getting for the money $19M being spent? Not much.
Lisa Butler August 09, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Don - seriously? Afraid of change? As I said before - put up or shut up. If you haven't seen the budget then it is ludicrous for you to assume that we should be able to make large cuts. I know the SC isn't perfect, so we are always looking at ways to save money, especially in this economy. We are always looking at how things work to make sure they are efficiently run and money is spent wisely while still providing the best education that we can to our children. Because that is what it is all about - the children of this town. They are our future. An uneducated population is more expensive in the long run than an uneducated one. For too long this Town has made it clear the mediocrity is ok for our Town. Everything is "good enough". Well if you don't invest in your Town it shows. If you want to review the budget, educate yourself on this topic, then I will have an intelligent conversation with you about ways to save money. I would welcome the feedback and suggestions. Sorry Don, but at this point you are just throwing out numbers and making assumptions. And you know what they say when you "assume"...
Lisa Butler August 09, 2012 at 01:08 PM
btw - typo above - an uneducated population is more expansive (to society and our town) than an educated one.

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