SOUTH KINGSTOWN -- Assistant Superintendent Linda Savastano will be taking on new roles and responsibilities this week, now that the school committee has unanimously appointed her as the new head of schools.
Although she publicly interviewed for this new role only 19 days into her appointment as assistant superintendent, Savastano said she is already feeling at home and looks forward to helping the children and the families of the district.
"It's hard not to fall in love with a community that's so committed to its children," Savastano said. "In my short time in the district, I have seen first-hand the caliber and dedication of our administrators, teachers and staff. I know that together, we will lay a strong foundation of trust and transparency that a community, and most importantly the children, deserve."
Going forward, Savastano said she hopes to build on the district's tradition of excellence, renew focus on a collaborative culture and worker with parents and community to ensure the success of all students. She brings with her more than 30 years of experience from her former district in Middletown.
"My decision to leave my last district was one of the most difficult in my life," Savastano said. "When you begin in a district at 22 years old, the community does become your family. Changing after 30 years was not a decision I made lightly."
"With that said, I do feel that South Kingstown needed what I had to offer and I know that I needed South Kingstown," she continued. "From the first moment, it felt like we fit together and I have not looked back. It has been less than 30 days, but it feels like home."
While this vetting and hiring process forces candidates to talk about themselves and their accomplishments, the role, in Savastano's eyes, is really all about the students.
Several members of the school committee took time to sing her praises on Monday night, and express their hope and optimism for the future of the district with Savastano at the helm.
"I'll be a parent stakeholder in South Kingstown for likely the next 15 years," said School Committee Chair Stephanie Canter. "I can say with absolute confidence and excitement that I'm really looking forward to the experience my kids are going to get as learners in your district."
"She is known among peers around the state for her remarkable K-12 experience, her work ethic, and above all, her integrity," she added.
Northup, who made the motion in executive session to go with Savastano as the new superintendent, also said Savastano's skills and qualities made her the perfect candidate.
"A superintendent must do what needs to be done for the good of the district and all stakeholders," Northup said. "They must have a clear vision of what needs to be done. I feel Linda's years of experience give her that."
"We must ensure that all students in the district are learning and achieving at a high level and that SK is sending our graduates into the world prepared to take it by storm," she added.
From the time she was appointed as assistant superintendent to now, Northup said she was impressed by Savastano and believes her "all-in attitude" is genuine.
"Linda was a stand-out candidate for me because she consistently rated high among all key stakeholder groups," said school committee member Emily Cummiskey. "The feedback we got from administrators, the feedback we got from teachers, the feedback we got from community members, and also the fact that in her own community where she comes from, she is so highly regarded as someone who brings people together."
She strongly believes that Savastano holds all students' best interests at heart.
Though the committee voted unanimously on Monday night, members of the committee were split originally when voting in executive session last week. School Committee Vice Chair Sarah Markey had made a motion to appoint superintendent candidate Mark Prince to the role, a choice that was backed by school committee members Kate McMahon Macinanti and Michelle Brousseau, but failed to gain approval in a 3-4 vote.
A second motion, made by Northup, to offer the superintendent position to Savastano was passed 6-1, with Brousseau casting the only dissenting vote.