PROVINCETOWN — When Gerry Goyette was made interim superintendent in June 2022, the Provincetown School Committee had one major concern: Goyette, who was serving as the school’s principal, was just too good at the job he already had.
“The school feels so good, and I think a lot of that is because of his leadership and his approach to faculty,” school committee member Liz Lovati said at the June 14, 2022 meeting.
Goyette, too, was wary of what the superintendent’s role would mean for his connections with students and ability to stay involved in the school’s day-to-day activities. But he took the new job and its additional bureaucratic responsibilities in stride.
“I made it my own,” Goyette told the Independent. “All of the things I was afraid I would lose by becoming the superintendent were just not correct. I still ride the bus up the hill and deliver breakfast every morning.”
Now, he also manages the district’s budget and long-term finances, oversees the school principal and staff, and implements its strategic vision in concert with the school committee.
On Feb. 15, the five-member school committee voted unanimously to appoint Goyette as permanent superintendent, pending contract negotiations.
“He truly is exactly what our district needs,” said Eva Enos, the committee chair. “He’s a resident of Provincetown, and his love for students and dedication to the school are evident.”
Goyette began his career in education in 1988 as a science and math teacher in California before moving back to Massachusetts, later transitioning to a middle-school principal position in Sutton. He was hired as the principal of the Provincetown Schools, with pre-K through 8th-grade students, in the summer of 2021.
After former Supt. Suzanne Scallion informed the school committee of her plan to retire in April 2022, an immediate search failed to find qualified candidates. Goyette was appointed in the interim, with the understanding that once the role was permanently filled, he would return to his duties as principal.
While the superintendent position was previously part-time, the school committee approved a shift to full-time for Goyette, who in turn appointed longtime teacher Beth Francis as interim principal. Goyette’s salary as interim superintendent is $147,500; in 2021, part-time Supt. Scallion made $105,422.89, according to the annual town report.
At the behest of the school committee, a superintendent search committee began convening in executive sessions in September. “We started early enough so that we could get into the mix of people looking for new jobs,” said Donna Walker, Provincetown’s diversity, equity, and inclusion director.
Walker was one of three community members who volunteered to be on the search committee along with Morgan Clark and Rick Murray. The group also included three school employees, Rick Gifford, Judy Ward, and Shelley La Salva, plus school committee members Liz Lovati and Adrianna Stefani, who chaired the group.
Initially, Goyette himself was on the search committee. At the school committee meeting on Sept. 21, 2022, Chair Enos asked Goyette for “honest feedback” on the scope of the superintendent role, given that he had said he would not seek it. “Having someone here every single day, every single hour, is very valuable,” Goyette said at the meeting.
As the semester went on, Goyette’s interest in the superintendency underwent an “evolution,” Enos said.
Goyette told the Independent his thinking had been “I’m enjoying the job more than I thought I would, and I might as well try to keep the job. If they had found somebody that would be the perfect candidate, then by all means I would go back to being the principal. But I’d like to be considered.”
On Oct. 19, Goyette informed the search committee he was considering applying and resigned from the group. He submitted his application for the superintendency on Dec. 9.
Advertising for the position began on Oct. 26 through the Mass. Association of School Committees (MASC), the Boston Globe and its associated outlets, the Mass. superintendents’ website, and SchoolSpring, according to Stefani. Applications were due by Dec. 31 and were fielded by MASC, which advises school committees on governance throughout the Commonwealth.
In all, the search committee received 12 applications for the superintendent job. Fiscal competency and budget experience, an understanding of the work, and familiarity with the International Baccalaureate curriculum were some of the key criteria under consideration. By mid-January, the committee had narrowed the field to six candidates.
The search committee continued meeting in executive session throughout the month. On Feb. 13, after what Stefani said was “a lot of deliberation,” they voted 6-0 to recommend Goyette for the role. Two members were absent.
The search committee cleared its decision with MASC, then presented its recommendation to the school committee — which makes appointments like this one — at its Feb. 15 meeting.
While school committee members said they were all “thrilled” about Goyette, one concern about the process was raised.
“In the future, I would like to make it explicitly clear to the search committee that they are to recommend two or more nominees,” said school committee member Ngina Lythcott. “We’ve had such incredible exposure and experience to the person who happened to be recommended by the search committee, and so it very well may not be necessary in this exceptional case,” she added.
Stefani responded that the search committee was confident that Goyette was the best choice for the job, calling him “head and shoulders above” the other candidates. She said they also wanted to respect the time and job market prospects of the rest of the applicant pool.
Lythcott agreed, saying Goyette has qualities that go beyond the job description. His qualities as “a healer, collaborator, [and his] connections to children,” she said, are “all the things that we needed.”
The initial timeline put forth in September aimed for a signed contract by April 1. The school committee has drafted a contract with legal counsel that will now be negotiated with Goyette, according to Enos. “So far, we are on track” to meet that date, she said.
As superintendent, Goyette will be responsible for appointing a new permanent principal to fill his previous position.