PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island education commissioner on Wednesday confirmed she’s talking “very seriously” with a candidate to lead the beleaguered Providence school district.
“We have a candidate,” Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said. “We are talking very seriously with one particular person.”
This is the second time Infante-Green has publicly said her search has narrowed. In October, she told reporters the job had been offered to a candidate, but negotiations ultimately fell through.
Infante-Green would not say whether the new candidate is someone from Rhode Island or outside the state. No agreement has been reached yet, according to spokesperson Meg Geoghegan.
“We are at the end of the road, as we talk about the possibilities and the future for Providence,” Infante-Green continued. “We want to make sure it is the right match.”
The commissioner, still in her first year at the helm of the department, said she expects an announcement “very soon,” but would not give a timeline.
The state has been searching for a so-called “state turnaround superintendent” for Providence ever since Infante-Green announced she would take control of the struggling school district last year. The superintendent will report directly to Infante-Green and help implement the turnaround plan that’s currently being crafted.
Community design teams, made up of community members who were nominated and selected by an advisory panel, are meeting over the next two months to help form the plan.
The original goal was to have the superintendent in place prior to the school taking over on Nov. 1. But Infante-Green said salary was one of the challenges in landing a superintendent who has experience in turning around a school district.
In the meantime, longtime administrator Dorothy Smith is the interim superintendent of schools, after Fran Gallo stepped down at the end of 2019. Gallo, a retired Central Falls superintendent, had only agreed to stay on temporarily, and could not work more than 90 days without affecting her pension.