BURRILLVILLE – He spent 14 years at schools in Providence, and another 10 working for the Scituate School Department – and says he wasn’t necessarily ready to leave that district just yet.
But new Burrillville school superintendent Michael Sollitto says that the town is a perfect fit for his goals and experience, and when the district announced that it was seeking a new leader earlier this year, it was an opportunity he just couldn’t pass up.
Sollitto officially takes the reigns from 9-year Supt. Frank Pallotta on Monday, July 1.
The assistant superintendent for the Scituate School Department since 2016, Sollitto served as principal Scituate High School from 2008 until that year.
He received his master’s in education from Rhode Island College and is an adjunct professor for Grand Canyon University and Concordia University. He also has a doctorate in education from Johnson and Wales University.
After an extensive search process, the Burrillville School Committee announced last month that Sollitto would take over the role leading town schools. The superintendent salary of $145,000 was approved as part of the department’s budget by the Town Council last week.
“We are happy to have Mr. Sollitto on board,” said Committee Chairman Mark Brizard.
Sollitto says he’s proud of the work he’s accomplished in Scituate, including several initiatives started in the past year, such as development of the district’s five year plan.
“Probably the thing I’m most proud of is creation of career and technical education classes, and the movement with STEAM,” he told NRI NOW.
In Scituate, Sollitto worked on vertical alignment of the STEAM curriculum in grades k through 12, promoting early age exposure to lessons in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics.
“A lot of times we see schools that operate in their own little silos,” Sollitto said, adding that it’s important an educational vision is articulated down to the elementary level.
He notes that similar to Scituate, Burrillville has five schools, and said he knows many who work in the district professionally and personally.
“Burrillville is the only district I applied to,” Sollitto said. “I wasn’t looking for a position unless it was the perfect position for me.”
“It was an opportunity I really couldn’t pass up,” he added.
He said that he also hopes to work on improving Burrillville’s career and technical education fields.
“I think it’s important to promote that to the community,” he said.
But Sollitto notes that his first job will be meeting all the personnel that have made the Burrillville School Department a success, and that will be his focus starting on Monday.
“I think the first thing I need to do is really learn more about the district,” he said. “That’s how I’ll be spending most of my summer – getting to know the needs of the schools.”
He notes that Pallotta has been “extremely helpful,” in the transition.
“He’s one of the most well-respected superintendents in the state, and I hope I can continue all of his great work,” Sollitto said. “It’s a challenge, and hopefully I’m up to it. It certainly will be big shoes to fill.”
“Everyone I’ve met so far has been fantastic everyone’s been really welcoming,” Sollitto said. “I just want to say how excited I am to really start.”