WOONSOCKET — The completion of a contract agreement between Giovanna M. Donoyan and the School Committee will fill the school department’s top administrative post as the new school year begins at the end of the month.
School Committee Chairman Marc A. Dubois said Donoyan and three members of the panel, himself and School Committeewomen Linda Majewski and Eleanor Nadeau, completed work on a three-year contract with the new superintendent at a special meeting Friday afternoon.
“A contract was signed and she is going to start with us on Sept. 1,” Dubois said.
Donoyan is currently employed as Deputy Superintendent of the North Providence School Department and will be giving her notice to leave that position as a result of the contract signing on Friday, Dubois said.
The first day of school for local students will be on Aug. 31 and teachers will be back for orientation on Aug. 30, according Dubois.
Although the selection of a replacement for former Superintendent of Schools Robert J. Gerardi Jr. did come with some controversy over the selection of a 16-member panel to review finalists, Dubois said Monday that he was nonetheless pleased that a new superintendent will be in place at the start of the new school year.
“She seems very energetic and very enthusiastic to work in Woonsocket,” Dubois said. “I look forward to working with her,” he added.
Gerardi left for a new superintendent’s post with the Maynard, Mass., School Department at the end of school and retired Rhode Island Superintendent Colette Trailor has been serving as interim superintendent of the local district while the search was conducted.
As part of the three-year contract reached with Donoyan, Dubois said
the new superintendent will earn the same $150,000-a-year salary awarded Gerardi during his tenure in the district. Donoyan will be paid $150,000-a-year in each year of the 3-year-old and not receive any pay increases during that time, he said. The sum is $22,000 less than the salary Gerardi’s predecessor, Maureen Macera, earned while she held the job. Macera did not have a deputy superintendent on board during her tenure with department and had 3- percent raises included in her contract, Dubois noted.
The new Superintendent also agreed to a 20-percent cost share on premiums for the district’s health care plan, and a maximum of 15 sick days per year. Donoyan’s unused sick days cannot be carried over and will be lost at the end of year, Dubois said, a change that will help the district avoid the expense of paying for unused sick days when a superintendent leaves the post.
The contract also provides for a maximum of 25 vacation days a year with only five days of that number eligible to be carried over to the following year.
Any unused vacation days beyond the five carried over would be lost at the end of the year, Dubois said.
The superintendent will receive a travel allowance not to exceed $1,500 per calendar year.
“It was a very frugal contract,” Dubois said while describing the terms as helpful to the district’s financial position.
School Committee members Anita McGuire Forcier and Vimala Phongsavanh did not attend the special meeting due to prior commitments, according to Dubois. The two members had not supported Donoyan’s selection as superintendent at the panel’s last meeting but had pointed to concerns over the make-up of the selection committee as reason for that objection. Both members suggested the naming of a selection committee could have been more open and requested consideration of changes in the process for the future.
Dubois on Monday acknowledged that the committee members can pursue changes to the selection process to address their concerns but at the same time defended the process used to review 106 applications for the local post.
“I know of no other district that has a search committee made up of 16 people from the community and education department,” he said. The panel had representatives from all the major school support organizations and included administrators from the elementary, middle school and high school levels in addition to a member of the local teacher union and special needs organizations, according to Dubois.
An initial screening committee reviewed all the applications for qualifications and compliance with job specifications for the post before forwarding a list of six candidates for interviews by the 16-member Superintendent selection committee. The subcommittee held a second round of interviews with three of the six candidates and then a final round with two candidates, he noted. Majewski and Nadeau served as non-voting members of the selection panel.
“I’m glad the process was done very quickly and very efficiently,” Dubois said.
“I want to give a big thank you to Linda Majewski and Ellie Nadeau for their work on the selection and a big thank you to the 16 people who volunteered to be on the selection committee,” he said.