Editorial: Serving Greenfield schools well

Like many parents, John Lunt decided it was in his family’s interest to get involved in the town’s public schools.

Lunt, however, decided to do more. He opted to not only represent his children’s interests, but those of all the other kids who attend Greenfield public schools. Six years later, it is fair to say that public education and the community have both benefited from having him on the Greenfield School Committee.

Think back to 2008. The Greenfield school system was faced with all kinds of upheaval, from budgetary challenges to the siphoning away of funds by School Choice to the consolidation of its elementary schools due to shrinking population. Lunt first joined the public fray as a member of the Coalition for Local Schools, a lobbying effort that, among other issues, was trying to keep Green River School from closing.

He was drawn further into the fray when the Greenfield School Committee was put squarely in the middle of a crisis during a transition year after many of the school system’s top administrators had left, and unanticipated problems with the budget looked like they might cover the district in red ink.

All of this, fueled by disagreements on the direction the schools should take, was fragmenting the committee. By April of 2008, resignations had opened an opportunity to serve and John Lunt, along with Maria Burge, were picked to join the board.

Lunt hit the floor running, quickly showing himself to be a hard-working and thoughtful school board member who helped peel away the rancor and indecision that hindered progress. Lunt did his homework and brought before the committee and public ideas and plans that quickly allowed him to earn the trust of committee members and residents and created the groundswell for what turned out to be a successful run for the School Committee through a write-in sticker campaign.

He became the chairman of the search committee for an interim superintendent, which in no time flat brought in Susan Hollins, who Lunt, at the time, described as a “collaborative player and innovative thinker,” asserting that she is “very strong with financial management.” As Greenfield knows, Hollins has been this and more, which not only resulted in her being hired as interim but then as full-time superintendent.

Now, some six years later, the public perceptions of Greenfield schools are improved and are a true source of community pride. Plenty of people had a hand in this — both within and outside the schools. But there can be no denying that John Lunt has had a significant role in placing the district on solid footing, now and into the future.

Yet like any community service, such work can become all consuming. Meetings, homework, travel, the public spotlight — on top of one’s work and family — can take its toll.

Thus we understand Lunt’s decision to step down. But we would be remiss to not offer thanks on a job well done.

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