Former Interim Schools Superintendent Named to Principal Post in Edgartown

By IAN FEIN

Since moving to the Island a little over a year ago, G. Paul Dulac has had his taste of the Vineyard shuffle - serving first as interim superintendent of schools, and then as interim principal of the Edgartown School.

Now he can settle in for good.

Mr. Dulac was named yesterday as the permanent Edgartown School principal - replacing longtime principal Edward Jerome, who retired in November after 26 years in the front office.

Mr. Dulac said yesterday that he and his wife Becky could not be happier.

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"We are kind of humbled by the opportunity; it really is just exactly what we wanted," Mr. Dulac said. "I couldn't consider myself more lucky to be in this school, and also to be on this Island - to finally get to be in the position where we know we're going to be here for hopefully the rest of our lives."

Vineyard schools superintendent James H. Weiss announced the hiring in an Edgartown School staff meeting yesterday morning.

The decision marks the first Island principal hire by Dr. Weiss, who worked alongside Mr. Dulac when he took over the superintendency last summer. Mr. Weiss said yesterday that while he alone has the authority to hire school principals, the decision was actually a community-wide effort.

"We used a search process involving a whole bunch of people who gave me a whole lot of information - from parents, community members, students, teachers and school committee members - and that's the kind of collaborative decision I want to make," Mr. Weiss said. "While the law says I get to pick, it's everybody's principal - not mine."

Mr. Weiss said that through the months-long search process, Mr. Dulac emerged as the consensus favorite.

"We had three excellent finalists," Mr. Weiss said. "But his longstanding experience really made him the choice of just about everyone."

The other finalists for the position were Elana Aitken, clinical director of the Hampshire Educational Collaborative in Northampton, and Lisa Sheffield, an adjunct professor at Ashland University in Ohio and a resident of Wellesley.

After conducting public interviews with all three candidates over the last two weeks, Edgartown school committee members on Wednesday night told Mr. Weiss that Mr. Dulac was their top choice. They had high marks for each finalist, but said that Mr. Dulac's experience - both elsewhere and on the Island - gave him a proven track record and indicated he would be the best fit for the job.

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School committee members said that since Mr. Dulac came to the Island last winter, they have not heard one bad word about him.

"Paul has served as interim superintendent and interim principal, and he hasn't tilted either of the buildings - which is not easy on Martha's Vineyard," school committee chairman Leslie Baynes said. "He has participated here, functioned here - and he seems to have survived. And he has done a nice job along the way."

Mr. Dulac has more than 20 years of experience as a superintendent, and served as a high school principal earlier in his career. But he told committee members in his final interview Wednesday that at this point in his career he wants to refocus his attention on the younger students.

"There is no better job in education than being an elementary school principal," Mr. Dulac said.

Mr. Weiss and Mr. Dulac still must hammer out a contract, but the negotiations are expected to be smooth. Mr. Weiss said he hopes to agree on a three-year contract. As interim principal, Mr. Dulac was hired last year at an annual salary of $104,000. The official start date of his new position will be July 1.

Some school officials have said they hope the decision will turn the final page on a long chapter of turnover in Island administration. Three principals and a former superintendent have left their positions since July 2004.

"We now have an excellent team of building administrators," Mr. Weiss said yesterday. "And I'd like them to continue to work on the team that I'm trying to build for the future of the Vineyard schools."