The all-Island school committee postponed action on choosing a successor for departing schools chief Dr. Matthew D’Andrea Wednesday, after assistant superintendent Richie Smith declined to take the job on an interim basis.

A week earlier, the school committee had voted 7-5 to appoint Mr. Smith acting superintendent when Mr. D’Andrea leaves for a new position in Wareham late next month.

(The roll call vote at that meeting was as follows: Voting yes, Roxanne Ackerman, Jennifer Cutrer, Kate DeVane, Rizwan Malik, Kris O’Brien, Kathryn Shertzer, Mike Watts. Voting no, Kimberly Kirk, Robert Lionette, Skipper Manter, Louis Paciello, Laura Seguin.)

But on Wednesday this week, Mr. Smith told committee members that while he would gladly serve out the remaining two years of Mr. D’Andrea’s term as superintendent, he was not interested in the title that had been offered.

“I appreciate the flattering offer of last week, but the reason I don’t want to be acting and the reason I prefer not to be an interim is, by definition, those two terms mean temporary,” Mr. Smith said.

At a meeting that drew 140 online participants, the school committee heard from Jim Hardy, a consultant on superintendent searches for the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC), who said there were no requirements for conducting a search.

“You don’t even have to have a process,” Mr. Hardy told committee members. “If you were so inclined, you could simply appoint the next superintendent and be done with it. It is within the authority granted you by statute.”

Other possible paths, he said, are to post the position to school district employees, in the hope of filling the job from within, or to form a search committee and advertise the job.

“That is what we generally term the intergalactic, look-under-every-rock search,” Mr. Hardy said. “The entire process can go an average of five or six months.”

State law prohibits the district from operating without a superintendent, so the committee needs to have someone in the position by July 1, chairman Kate DeVane said.

The committee will decide a course of action at an online meeting June 2 at 6:30 p.m., she said.

Mr. D’Andrea was the first in a lineup of people including teachers and parents to urge committee members to choose Mr. Smith for the job.

“This is an easy decision for you,” Mr. D’Andrea told the committee. “Richie Smith has been by my side for the last seven years . . . He’s committed to the Island. He has a child in the system . . . He knows the people. He knows all the moving parts. He knows the district and the district knows him.”

“He listens to us. He is an amazing communicator. He just has so much experience,” said Edgartown kindergarten teacher Debra Grant.

“This Island is in crisis, and why wouldn’t we do this?” she added.

Tisbury School principal John Custer, who served on the search committee that brought Mr. D’Andrea to the district in 2015, reminded the school committee that Mr. Smith was the other finalist for the top job.

“In the seven years since, he has served, I would argue, very capably,” Mr. Custer said. “We’ve got an incredible opportunity in front of us.”

Edgartown School head cook Gina DeBettencourt added her endorsement.

“He has been there for all of us, and even showed up during the pandemic to help us bag lunches,” Ms. DeBettencourt said.

“And he always answers his phone,” she added.

Following the testimonials, Mr. Smith explained his reasons for not wanting the interim job.

“During . . . arguably the most pivotal time in our system, I don’t want to face all of these things being the temporary superintendent,” he said.

“I want to go through with the ability of talking with our community members, working with our staff, working with our parents, working with our kids, with them knowing that I’m the superintendent. It lends to the stability this system needs,” Mr. Smith told the committee.

He also will assist the district with the search process for a superintendent to take over in two years, and is willing to help with the transition as well, Mr. Smith said.

“I would love to continue on and finish my career, but I would support any new superintendent that you brought in after two years of allowing me to be the full superintendent,” he said.

Also Wednesday, the committee ratified the district’s contract with its food service workers union, and adjourned to an executive session to discuss negotiations with the teachers union.