The Up-Island regional school committee will begin an immediate search for a new principal at the West Tisbury School.
At a meeting Tuesday Vineyard schools superintendent Dr. James H. Weiss said he would like to avoid appointing an interim principal to replace outgoing principal Michael Halt, and hire a permanent principal in time for the start of the school year next September.
Mr. Halt, who has been principal since 2004, will leave at the end of the school year to take a job as a high school principal in San Clemente, Calif.
“I think we need some stability for the school. That’s my prime directive,” Mr. Weiss told the regional school committee, noting that the school has been through a number of transitions in recent years, partly due to the fact that Mr. Halt, who is a member of the U.S. Marine Corps reserves, has been called to active duty twice.
“In last couple years I’ve had to make or have made interim appointments in a number of cases and thankfully they’ve turned out pretty well,” Mr. Weiss said.
The superintendent also said he believed there are some strong possible candidates for the position in the school system.
“That might mean some jobs get moved around or other openings but I think there’s a possibility of that happening,” he said.
If the search does not produce a pool of qualified candidates, Mr. Weiss said he would reconsider an interim appointment.
Parents and teachers who attended the meeting agreed with the approach.
“This is my eleventh year here and I’ve had nine changes in principal,” said Maggie Warnke, a special education teacher. “I’ve worked in a lot of places before and I’ve never had any kind of turnover like this. I would really hope we could find someone who isn’t another interim. I think we’re weary of all the changes.”
Erik Hammerlund, a school parent, said he’d like to see parents be involved in the search.
“Parents . . . are the primary stakeholders in this, next to faculty,” he said.
Mr. Weiss said the position will be advertised next week. Then community meetings will be scheduled with parents and staff to discuss the needs of the school. The search committee will include faculty, parents, students and administrators.
Mr. Halt attended the meeting and expressed his gratitude to the school community.
“This is one of the best experiences that’s ever happened to me,” he said. “It’s been an absolutely wonderful privilege to be the principal of the West Tisbury school. I’ve loved every moment. The teachers are fantastic, the parents fantastic and our students are absolutely incredible. Thank you for all the support you’ve given me.”