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Union 28 supt. tapped for new job in eastern Mass.

ERVING — Joan Wickman, the seven-year superintendent of Union 28 schools, is in contract negotiations to take a new job as superintendent-principal of a public PreK-grade 8 school in Carlisle.

The Carlisle School Committee voted unanimously late last week to appoint Wickman to the post, according to a notice on the school’s website. If contract negotiations are successful, she is expected to start Aug. 1.

Wickman, a Westhampton resident, said Thursday that she wanted to wait to comment until after a contract had been signed. In her current role, she oversees four elementary schools with nearly 600 students from Erving, Leverett, New Salem, Shutesbury and Wendell.

Scott Bastarache, chairman of the Union 28 Joint Supervisory School Committee, declined to comment on what a superintendent vacancy will mean for the supervisory union — in part because the union’s future is itself unclear.

Leverett and Shutesbury, which already sends students to regional middle and high schools in Amherst, are considering leaving Union 28 to join Amherst and Pelham in a K-12 regional school system.

The two schools represent about half of the supervisory union’s students. If they were to secede in July 2014, it would leave two elementary schools representing students from three towns — and school officials in those towns have previously said it’s unclear if the union would be able to continue.

Erving middle and high school students generally go to the Gill-Montague Regional School District. New Salem and Wendell students go to Ralph C. Mahar Regional School.

Union 28 representatives will discuss future plans next Wednesday, at 7 p.m., in Leverett.

Wickman will come to her new joint role with administrative experience at both the school and district level. Before joining Union 28, she served as an elementary school principal for the Gateway Regional School District, located just to the west of Northampton and Holyoke.

The Carlisle School teaches about 640 students, according to state data. A decade ago, the school had 200 more students, and enrollment has declined each year for the past eight years.

Carlisle is one of 13 school districts in the eastern part of the state that receive support from the Concord Area Special Education (CASE) Collaborative to help its disabled students.

Michael Baldassarre — the outgoing superintendent of the Ralph C. Mahar Regional, Orange Elementary and Petersham school districts — will take over as the collaborative’s executive director in July.

Should Union 28 appoint a successor for Wickman, it would make the fourth new superintendent in Franklin County this year.

In March, Frontier Regional School Principal Martha Barrett was tapped to take over for superintendent Regina Nash. Then, last month, the Gill-Montague Regional School Committee appointed Michael Sullivan to succeed interim Superintendent Mark Prince.

And Tari Thomas, an assistant superintendent for the Mahar school district, is set to take over for Baldassarre on an interim basis.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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