Smith appointed interim superintendent


by Grace Dempsey, News Editor

photo courtesy of NPS

On June 13, the School Committee voted to name Dr. Kathleen Smith as interim superintendent for the 2022-2023 school year. Smith will replace Dr. David Fleishman, who resigned in June after a decade-long tenure.

Previously, Smith served as superintendent of Brockton Public Schools, as well as interim superintendent in Salem, Dover-Sherbon and Weymouth public school districts.

Dean of Cutler House and Acting Principal Josepha Blocker said that she believes Smith to be the right choice for the district.

“She has a wealth of experience. She’s really spending some good time this summer getting to know the new community,” she said.

Meanwhile, the search for a permanent replacement continues. The superintendent search committee consists of School Committee members and Newton Public Schools (NPS) administrators, staff, students and parents who will offer input during the lengthy process. The committee hopes to fill the superintendent position by the start of the 2023-2024 school year.

As NPS moves forward under new leadership, there are several issues that parents and students said they would like to see addressed..

Sophomore class vice president Chloe Hu said that the superintendent’s priority should be making South a safer space for all students.

“We’ve had hate [incidents] happen in the past, and we don’t really get many updates about it,” she said. “A big focus should be to welcome everyone into school, especially because school is supposed to be like a place where you feel comfortable. If it’s not the focus to make people feel comfortable first, then I don’t see a point in anything else.”

Sophomore and Social Topics on Air (STOA) club member Shayla Bellucci said that the high frequency of hate incidents needs to be better addressed. 

“[Hate incidents] are happening so often, that it’s past the principal’s hands. We need the superintendent to actually put out a statement, and hopefully they’ll do something.”

To encourage transparency throughout the district, sophomore senator Helen Liu said that she hopes South Senate and the School Committee will have more opportunities to collaborate.

“I hope that there’s increased communication between the student Senate and the School Committee and more efficiency between what we plan to do and when we get it done,” she said. 

South parent Marty Smart* said that the consequences of the March 7th system-wide budget cut should be addressed by the superintendent.

“Dealing with the budgetary problems that are leading to a loss of faculty is a matter I see as important, and deserving of a good deal of attention,” he said.

In light of the wide range of issues concerning members of the community, Blocker said that the superintendent search committee is prioritizing NPS’ core values in their search for the new appointee. 

“The community’s values are focusing on diversity and equity and inclusion, and also focusing on having an excellent education that all students have access to,” she said. “Whomever we hire would take their experience and direct them towards those goals.”

* Name changed to protect identity

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