First GM Supt. candidate passionate about improvement

TURNERS FALLS — The Gill-Montague School Committee on Monday evening interviewed the first of three finalists for the district superintendent’s job, nearing the close of a search process scheduled to end with a decision Thursday.

Michael E. Sullivan of Northampton has been Assistant Superintendent for Learning in the Long-meadow Public Schools since 2011, having previously worked in the district as principal of Glenbrook Middle School and taught for 16 years.

Sullivan said he had not been looking for a job but the district caught his interest, saying the district has great bones, and while the district is in the state’s sights “none of the reasons for that seem to be reasons that are not workable.”

Asked about his budget experience, Sullivan said he has been closely involved in the late stages of the Longmeadow district’s budget process, understands the politics and the need to work within what the town can afford. Sullivan said he also majored in accounting and has professional experience in public sector finance, and would be willing to continue the financial compact between the towns and district.

Sullivan said he is driven in what he does and passionate about helping schools improve for kids, and on the other side of that coin can come across as though he is trying to push an agenda.

Asked how he would manage the district’s reputation, Sullivan described an episode in which some changes resulted from a community survey he issued.

“That’s really good public relations work as far as I was concerned,” he said. “When kids come home saying cool things happened at school today, when parents feel listened to.”

On the subject of transition into the district, Sullivan said he would have no plans for immediate change until hearing concerns and gathering a variety of data, but mentioned refining the district’s state-mandated turnaround plan as a possibility.

“I think the way certain things are being addressed are a little too taxing, a little to much too soon,” Sullivan said.

The district has been without a permanent superintendent for two years.

The remaining interviews will be today and Thursday, both at 6 p.m. in Turners Falls High School and preceded by a community meet-and-greet with the candidate in the high school lobby from 4:30 to
5:30 p.m.

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