PAWTUCKET — Kim Mercer, the deputy superintendent of schools in Pawtucket, appears poised to be named the schools superintendent in neighboring East Providence.
East Providence School Committee Chairman Joel Monteiro said that Mercer is the leading candidate chosen by a search committee to become the school district's permanent superintendent, replacing interim East Providence Supt. John DeGoes. He said about 25 educators had applied for the job, and Mercer was deemed the best qualified following interviews with about a half dozen finalists.
Monteiro said that Mercer has not yet been offered the position and declined to discuss any details about salary, saying this was premature. “The process is still going. There is no decision yet, but [Mercer] has done well so far,” he said. We're trying to cross our T's and dot our I's with this hire,” he added.
Monteiro said the next step is for Mercer to appear before the School Committee, principals, teachers, parent-teacher groups and residents at a public forum tentatively scheduled for Feb. 27 at one of the school auditoriums. “This, on the 27th, will be the first time she is in front of the entire School Committee,” he said. “This will be an opportunity for the members of the School Department, staff, the teachers' union, the PTA, PTOs, and other community groups to ask questions,” he said.
Referring to the financial problems in East Providence that prompted a state Budget Commission to be called in to oversee city operations, Monteiro said, “With our situation, we were not drawing a lot of talented candidates. We were surprised when she (Mercer) stepped forward with her background and experience.”
When reached for comment, Mercer confirmed that she had applied for the superintendent's post and that she had made it to the public interview stage in the process. “I am thrilled that they're considering me,” she said.
A Pawtucket resident, Mercer has been employed in the Pawtucket School District for 26 years and has been working in the central school administration office for the past 15 years. She has been deputy superintendent for the last 11 years, where her duties include overseeing curriculum development.
Mercer's background in curriculum and experience in a diverse urban school district were key reasons why the search committee chose her as a finalist, Monteiro said. He added that the school board is looking forward to having a qualified person at the helm who can rebuild the administration and provide stability.
The East Providence School District operates 13 schools serving approximately 5,700 in grades pre-kindergarten through 12, while the Pawtucket School District has 16 schools serving about 8,800 students in the same grade levels.