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Editorial: Rowe’s messy divorce

If the shared superintendent figured prominently in the relationship between Rowe and the Mohawk Trail Regional School districts, that superintendency now is at heart of what can be described as an arranged marriage that is going through a divorce.

Rowe residents, as well as those in the Mohawk district, already know that this is split is going to be marked by acrimony.

The question, however, that Rowe has to be asking itself is what kind of cost is accompanying whatever route the district takes in securing the services of a standalone superintendent.

Two options are being considered by the Rowe School Committee. One would be to join the North Berkshire School Union, thus getting state-required superintendent services through that district. The other would be to hire a superintendent, one that would work exclusively for Rowe. Both of these options have their own specific benefits but both represent an added expense, though one would expect that sharing a superintendent would be less of a cost than bearing the salary and benefits of their own administrator.

It’s clear that there are residents, including Rowe School Committee Chairwoman Lisa Miller, who think that it’s worth the money to extract themselves from the relationship.

“It would be nice to have someone here who knows what we know,” Miller said, “We don’t want to be penny-wise and pound foolish,” especially when the community is facing other financial issues, particularly rebuilding its elementary school.

Which then raises the question: why not retain the services of Mohawk Superintendent Michael Buoniconti? As more than one resident pointed out, Rowe is already paying for the superintendent services, so why not get what you’re paying for — someone who can handle the budget and has the power to hire and fire school employees? In the short term it does make sense, even if it’s asking these two partners to live in the same house while going through the divorce.

But what about long term? It’s clear there are people in Rowe, including those on the School Committee, who want this relationship to end. Likewise, Buoniconti isn’t clamoring to stay, given that he informed Rowe that he will not renew his contract with Rowe when it ends in 2014.

Are the differences here irreconcilable? Cryptic comments and silence don’t answer that question. Yet it is the one that should be answered before a new relationship becomes a reality.

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