Sunday, May 26, 2024

Marisa Mendonsa in a screen capture from a Feb. 8 superintendent finalist community meeting video.

Five finalists in a restarted superintendent search were announced Wednesday by the Somerville School Committee, and they include the favorite candidate from the first round – back after dropping out in February.

This round includes a Cambridge Public Schools official, too.

Marisa Mendonsa, deputy superintendent of Pittsfield public schools, withdrew for personal reasons, leaving the committee with two remaining finalists whom they chose not nominate. The committee reopened the search for a superintendent before February break.

“Dr. Mendonsa withdrew for family reasons that were fast-moving,” chair Andre Green said during Wednesday’s meeting. “In the weeks since that decision, the situation has apparently stabilized.”

When Mendonsa asked to be reconsidered, the screening committee concluded it was the School Committee’s decision, Green said. Given her family situation, Mendonsa has asked the committee to consider granting her a phased-in start.

“That’s something that I would strongly encourage you to ask [about] in the interview,”’ Green told committee members.

The other finalists include Michelle Madera, assistant superintendent of elementary education in Cambridge Public Schools; Jill Geiser, assistant superintendent of Billerica Public Schools and a former Somerville principal; Rubén Carmona, executive director of family, community and employee engagement at Salem Public Schools; and Toby Romer, the assistant superintendent of secondary education in the Newton Public Schools.

“We have five strong candidates,”’ Green said.

Before the meeting adjourned, committee members reflected on the challenges of the search.

“I just want to thank the screening committee and the district for your incredibly hard and fast work,”’ School Committee member Sarah Phillips said. “I really look forward to meeting the people that you’ve put forward.”

“It was a real privilege and a challenge to be part of this . We really navigated some challenging questions,”’ committee member Laura Pitone said. “They’re all five very strong candidates and so figuring out who is really the best fit for us may be a challenge, a good challenge.”

The committee will hold candidate interviews next week. The window for community feedback opens Monday.