Lincoln’s new school superintendent looking forward to next chapter in ‘district on the move’

Lincoln’s new school superintendent looking forward to next chapter in ‘district on the move’

LINCOLN – One week before Lawrence “Larry” Filippelli would have celebrated his 19th anniversary working in the Scituate School District, he will start his new position at the helm of Lincoln public schools. The Lincoln School Committee announced on April 9 that Filippelli, Scituate’s current superintendent, would serve as Lincoln’s next superintendent of schools, effective July 1.

Filippelli, 45, named superintendent of Scituate in 2016, said the opportunity to work in Lincoln was too good to pass up despite his deep connection to the Scituate community. He says he’s committed to his future in Lincoln, and would like to retire here.

“I don’t jump around,” he told The Breeze. “I’m coming from a place I was for 19 years. You have to have consistency of leadership and I want to see my ideas through.”

Filippelli first came to Scituate as a social studies teacher at Scituate Middle and High School, becoming assistant principal in 2002 and principal of the middle school in 2004. He was hired as assistant superintendent in 2009 and named superintendent in 2016.

When Lincoln School Committee members announced Filippelli’s appointment, they said he was the first to apply to the job opening. Filippelli said Lincoln is the only district where he applied.

“There are other openings, but none of them piqued my interest like Lincoln did,” he said, calling Lincoln a “destination district” for its growing size, high performance levels, diverse population and its level of community support for education, citing the high school renovation bond passed by taxpayers last year. Filippelli said Lincoln is already a high-performing district that he wants to make stronger, focusing on academic achievement.

Filippelli signed a three-year contract with Lincoln schools, ending June 30, 2021. The contract cites a starting salary of $156,500. Outgoing Supt. Georgia Fortunato is earning about $160,000 in her final year.

“This was an opportunity to get into a district that’s on the move. As a superintendent I want to be part of that growth. There are a lot of good things about the district, and I think there is room to grow to greatness,” said Filippelli. “Getting all of the right people moving in the right direction can do that.”

Passing a $5 million bond to renovate five schools and Caito Field is at the top of Filippelli’s list of the accomplishments he’s most proud of while serving as superintendent in Scituate.

“To get that bond passed in such a fiscally conservative district was a big deal that required a team effort,” he said, noting that being involved in Scituate’s renovation process will give him a leg-up in Lincoln’s high school project. He plans to attend Thursday’s LHS Renovation Committee meeting to start familiarizing himself with the project.

“My worry is going to be with the students and staff, as well as making sure that it’s going to be on time and on budget,” he said.

In addition to getting Rhode Island Department of Education and voter approval for the school renovations, Filippelli said he’s particularly proud to have developed a revised strategic plan for the Scituate district, to have helped implement technology upgrades and blended learning initiatives, and to have secured grants and developed new career and technical pathways for students.

He said he doesn’t regret a thing about his time in Scituate.

“Because our district is so small you get involved in absolutely everything … that has prepared me very well to take the next step,” he said. “When you wear a lot of hats you get really well prepared. This has been a wonderful place to work for a long time and leaving is a touch bittersweet because starting as a teacher here, I have deeply rooted relationships here that I adore, but the opportunity to go to Lincoln was one that I don’t think I could pass up.”

Filippelli said Lincoln “felt like the right fit” throughout his entire hiring process, from the first to final round of interviews. “It was a very relaxed process and that’s how I knew it was right for me.”

Lincoln residents said they sought an accessible, visible leader in their next superintendent, and Filippelli said his door is always open. At a recent school board meeting, members of a parent group expressed interest in meeting with the new superintendent quarterly, as they do with Fortunato. Filippelli said he’d like to establish a monthly coffee hour to meet with PTOs to discuss concerns.

The first thing on his to-do list in Lincoln, he said, is to “meet and rally with the administrative team and dive into the data of the district,” exploring demographic and academic trends. For example, he said Lincoln has shown an increased poverty population and would need to address whether its teachers are trained well enough to work with those students.

Filippelli said looking into the district’s data is the best way to identify its needs. The next step is figuring out how to meet them.

Meanwhile, he’ll be spending time immersing himself in the district, getting to know its families.

“I’m going from knowing generations of people in town to having to establish new relationships,” he said. “So far, I’ve felt very welcome and I’m extremely excited to start.”