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YARMOUTH — The School Department could find itself looking for a new superintendent of schools as soon as next week.
Superintendent Judy Paolucci is one of two finalists for the superintendent job in Leicester, Mass. A decision is expected Wednesday, Dec. 12, Leicester School Committee Chairman Scott Broskey said Tuesday.
Paolucci said she applied for the position mainly to be closer to her family members, who live in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Palucci has been superintendent in Yarmouth since 2009. She previously was a teacher and administrator in Rhode Island.
“It’s always a really difficult decision to decide to pursure other options,” Paolucci said Monday. “I’ve had good experiences here. A lot of positive things have happened here; full-day kindergarten, the turf bond – thankfully – major curriculum revisions and other types of accomplishments. I certainly feel my investment and the district’s investment in me has been been good.”
Paolucci said she had hoped her husband, who works in Rhode Island and drives to Maine on weekends, would find work in Yarmouth, but it hasn’t happened.
Broskey said five members of the Leicester search committee will be coming to Yarmouth Friday to do an on-site evaluation.
Yarmouth has a strong school district, Broskey said, and he hopes if Paolucci is chosen, she will bring that success with her.
“Yarmouth is a great district there,” he said, noting work by Paolucci and her predecessor, Ken Murphy. “She filled some big shoes and did it admirably. In all her references, there wasn’t a bad thing said about her.”
The Leicester committee started with 30 applicants and last week narrowed its choices to two: Paolucci and Marilyn Tencza, curriculum director at the Leicester Public Schools.
Broskey said Paolucci stood out from the others because of her managerial skills, understanding of the budget process and her “warm” personality.
“During the process, my opinion alone, I just think the last interview was a great interview,” he said. “She showed a lot strength in leaderships skills, good ideas and managerial skills. Those are all qualities we need. And she’s a warm person.”
“Meeting Judy has been wonderful,” he continued. “Frankly, I think she blew us away. Yarmouth is very lucky to have a superintendent like that and I hope soon we’ll be in the same boat.”
Yarmouth School Committee Chairwoman Abby Diggins said she’ll be sad to see Paolucci go if she is hired.
“Well, it’s too bad she’s leaving. We’ve enjoyed having her and she’s been a great asset to the Yarmouth school system,” she said. “We appreciate Judy’s hard work; she’s a hard worker, a smart person, has made some nice changes to the curriculum, but we understand she has to do what works for her personally and professionally.”
Paolucci said Leicester and Yarmouth are similar communities. The Massachusetts district’s enrollment is 1,800 students, about 400 more than Yarmouth.
“In the first interview (with the School Committee) you get to know the district’s values by the type of questions they ask,” she said. “And frankly, they asked all the right questions.”
Paolucci said Leicester’s values were consistent with what she looks for in a school department, which include opportunities for continuous improvement, having a good relationship with town and a place where she could be an instructional leader.
Paul Soojian is retiring after spending 27 years in the Leicester school system, the last five years as superintendent, Broskey said.
The Leicester committee wanted to have a replacement by Jan. 1, but if Paolucci is chosen, Broskey said there will likely be a waiting period stipulated by her contract.
But, he said, “we are more than willing to wait.”
If Paolucci is hired in Leicester, Diggins said the Yarmouth School Committee would put together a search committee and begin advertising for the position as soon as possible. She said the School Committee would likely appoint an interim superintendent during the search for a permanent replacement.
Paolucci said if she is hired for the job, she wants Yarmouth to be in a good position to hire another superintendent and will work to make the transition smooth.
Either way, Paolucci said she’s happy with the experiences she has had in Yarmouth.
“It’s important to have great things to say about the place your leaving and great things to say about the place you are going to,” she said. “But, no decision has been made.”