Mitchell: Superintendent Search Should Be ‘Unassailable’
The New Bedford School Committee will begin putting together a search committee for the next Superintendent of Schools sometime in the next few weeks, according to Mayor Jon Mitchell.
Making his weekly appearance on WBSM, Mayor Mitchell said the School Committee's attorney has been consulted about "how the process should be framed legally."
"You want to make sure it complies with the State Open Meeting Law, and a number of other legal requirements," Mitchell said. "So I think you'll see something emerge in the next couple of weeks."
The mayor said he'd like to see a search committee that was as "credible" as the last one in 2011, when Dr. Pia Durkin was hired as superintendent. Dr. Durkin handed in her resignation on November 16, citing "major philosophical differences" with incoming and current School Committee members.
Mitchell said he hopes the upcoming search committee is also a "good cross-section of folks from the school district."
"To my mind, what we want is a committee that understands New Bedford, understands the needs of its school children, and is capable of recognizing good leadership," he said.
"Above all...we want the process to be unassailable," Mitchell said. "We want respected people on (the search committee), so others in the community won't say it's fixed. The last one was very credible, and this one will be very credible as well."
Mitchell said the process will probably be similar to last time, when the School Committee members met, suggested some names and voted on who they wanted to see on the search committee.
The mayor also said he has spoken with Dr. Durkin recently, but not about her reasons for resigning. He said they talked about what next steps the district needs to take in the future, and reviewed what items are going before the School Committee over the next six months or so.
Mayor Mitchell also discussed Tuesday's announcement that MariMed, Inc. had purchased the former Aerovox site in the New Bedford Industrial Park, to build a full service, state-of-the-art medical marijuana cultivation and production facility. He said ARL Healthcare, Inc., which will lease the facility from MariMed, will generate about $300,000 a year in revenue for the city once it is up and running through the Host Community Agreement ARL reached with the city.
"I think it's a good thing, because it's going to bring revnue to the city," Mitchell said. "It's just a manufacturer, not a retail center. It's going to look like any other factory. It'll be a big box that trucks pull up to, it will have more security than most factories but you won't really be able to tell the difference from outside, and it's in the Industrial Park."
ARL said it expects to employ 50 to 100 people, and start growing marijuana in the first quarter of 2018.
"I don't believe they have their license yet from the State Department of Public Health to operate as a medical marijuana grower yet," Mitchell said. "But my understanding is the folks associated with it are pretty well established and credible, and will likely get the license and operate there."
The mayor also said the state is supposed to release some of its recreational marijuana guidelines on December 31, and that the city needs to start thinking about where those establishments would go in New Bedford.
The recently-closed 7-Eleven convenience store at 1499 Acushnet Avenue was also discussed.
"I don't know what the issue is with 7-Eleven," Mitchell said. "I understand there have been reports based on allegations by employees it's closed because there was too much shoplifting there, and people hanging around and doing undesirable things, but you know, that's the employee's talking."
Mitchell noted he's still waiting to hear from 7-Eleven corporate management as to why the location closed.
The store had been frequently found to have an overflowing dumpster and trash in the street. A recent public information request filed by WBSM News with the New Bedford Police Department revealed 803 police visits to the store over the last five years, including 27 robberies, with 11 of them armed.