Dr. Michael Harvey's six-year tenure as principal at Belmont High School has come to an end after he was the unanimous pick to become the next Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District superintendent on Monday night, May 7.
Hamilton-Wenham School Committee Chairman Alexa McCloughan notified Harvey by cell phone minutes after the 7:36 p.m. vote.
“He is very excited,” McCloughan said.
Finding Harvey's replacement will be led by Belmont's current interim Superintendent Dr. Thomas Kingston.
If he should follow past practices, Kingston will likely create a screening committee made up of between six and ten members of the schools community including a representative of the school committee, High School teachers and staff, members of the central office, parents and a community representative.
It is likely that a new principal will be installed before the beginning of the new school year in September.
Harvey was an unsuccessful finalist to become Belmont’s interim superintendent. Kingston, former superintendent of the Chelsea Schools, was named to that position in the summer of 2011. Kingston's term was recently extended by a year.
Harvey, an Ipswich resident, taught English and social studies at Ipswich High School in the late 1990s. Harvey was the director of social studies for K-12 for Belmont schools for two years before being named principal in 2006
It took the Hamilton-Wenham committee only about 35 minutes to have each member outline their support for Harvey. Eight of the committee’s nine members backed Harvey in the initial vote at which time the lone holdout, William Dery, said he would back Harvey to make it an unanimous vote.
“Mike has always been a close second in my mind,” Dery said, after joking that he did not want his vote in favor of Harvey “to tarnish my reputation as a black sheep.”
Following the vote, the School Committee went into executive session to discuss Harvey’s contract offer. The fiscal 2013 budget has about $170,000 budgeted for the superintendent position.
Committee members lauded Harvey on a variety of counts, including his ability to be a visionary leader for the district.
McCloughan said Harvey will be a “leader and excellent fit for our district.”
“We need an operational leader,” she said.
Harvey, if he reaches a contract with the School Committee, will take over for interim Superintendent Peter Gray, who took over at about this time last year after the sudden departure of Dr. Raleigh Buchanan after less than a year on the job.
Roger Kuebel said Harvey is the right person to lead the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District for the next five to 10 years.
“We’re really hoping to bring in someone who will be here for a long time,” he said. Some of Kuebel’s concerns about Harvey were his central office experience and ability to develop a vision and have innovation.
During a visit to Belmont High School, Kuebel said he asked Harvey’s co-workers specific questions about those concerns – and got satisfyingly specific answers.
“Those answers were very impressive,” Kuebel said.
The initial 33 applicants for the job earlier this year were winnowed down to 11 people, who were each interviewed. From there, four finalists were announced in early April. Since then, School Committee member have hosted each candidatefor a daylong visit and forums with teachers, staff and community members, plus each have had some School Committee members visit their existing workplaces.
The other candidates were Susan Givens, currently chief financial officer for the Masconomet Regional School District; William Hart, currently assistant superintendent for Pentucket Regional Schools and Julia Phelps, currently associate commissioner for curriculum and instruction at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.