Sunday, June 16, 2024

Rubén Carmona is Somerville’s next superintendent of schools. (Photo: Salem Public Schools)

The Somerville School Committee voted Monday to name Rubén Carmona the next superintendent of schools.

Carmona, the executive director of family, community and employee engagement in Salem Public Schools, will begin work in July and replace interim superintendent Jeff Curley. Curley stepped into the role last summer after former superintendent Mary Skipper was appointed superintendent of Boston Public Schools.

Carmona had widespread support at the meeting, getting an initial 6-3 vote that was formally made unanimous after his win.

“We are really thrilled to bring on Dr. Carmona. Personally I have known him for almost five years and I think he is a wonderful individual,” interim assistant superintendent of academics Jessica Boston Davis said.

Committee member Laura Pitone acknowledged the difficulty of the vote.

“We had a hard choice,” Pitone said. “We had four very talented educational leaders. It was a real privilege and a luxury.”

The committee launched a superintendent search in November that halted in February when favored candidate Marisa Mendonsa withdrew from consideration for family reasons. That left the committee with two remaining finalists whom members chose not to nominate.

The revived search included five finalists. Mendonsa was among them. So, too was Michelle Madera, Cambridge’s assistant superintendent of elementary education. Neither got a top choice vote.

The remaining finalists included Jill Geiser, who withdrew her candidacy after being selected as superintendent of Belmont Public Schools, and Toby Romer, assistant superintendent for Newton Public Schools and the favored candidate for three committee members.

Carmona was formerly principal of the Horace Mann Laboratory School in Salem and the Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Lowell. He was a teacher for more than 15 years and spent many of those in dual-language or English-as-a-second-language classrooms.

His upbringing was an important part of his work, Carmona said, starting with his birth in Colombia.

“My parents made the sacrifice and investment in education for me to be here,” he said during his finalist interview. “That’s one of the things that actually drives my work, which is a commitment to equity that is not just at the intellectual level, but a visceral and emotional level.”

Carmona also comes to this work as a parent. “My children are full of strength and beauty and genius, but often their strength doesn’t show up in the educational academic setting because of their learning and emotional disabilities,” Carmona said. “That is another thing that I feel drives my resolve to be a champion for students who need access to learning.”

School Committee chair Andre Green acknowledged that some people would be disappointed by Monday’s vote.

“This is a community that cares,” Green said. “I urge us to listen to those disappointed voices.”

The committee must schedule closed-door sessions  in the coming weeks to discuss and hold contract negotiations.