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Greenfield Public Schools

Greenfield school board hires consultant, seeking superintendent search committee members

GREENFIELD — The Greenfield School Committee has decided to hire the Massachusetts Association of School Committees as a consultant for its upcoming superintendent search.

At the same time, the school board is now accepting applications for members to join a local superintendent search committee, which will work with the state association to find finalists by early 2014.

The board is seeking the successor of current Superintendent Susan Hollins, who has led the Greenfield schools since 2008.

Despite a reported shortage of qualified candidates and nearly 40 other Massachusetts districts seeking a new superintendent, Mayor William Martin said Thursday he expects a “high-caliber response” of applicants for the Greenfield post.

“The Greenfield district is in the upper valley of the knowledge corridor,” said Martin. “This is a place for a high-level, high-caliber, high-energy superintendent to come in and set up a base in a growing school system and a district that’s got its own wave of accomplishments.”

The local superintendent search committee will work with the state association to advertise for the post and find applicants by February, said the mayor. The school department is setting aside $20,000 in consulting fees, but Martin said the final amount will likely be in the $12,000 to $15,000 range.

Martin will begin appointing members to the superintendent search committee and the School Committee will vote on the group at a Dec. 4 meeting. The mayor envisions an 11-member body consisting of school board representatives, teachers, parents, residents and business owners.

Greenfield Education Association President Thomas Bevacqua asked the committee Wednesday to include teacher representatives in the search process. Member Margaret Betts, who teaches in Easthampton, suggested that the committee include one elementary school teacher, one middle/high school teacher and one paraprofessional.

It’s currently unclear who will lead the search committee. On Wednesday, Martin initially appointed member Francia Wisnewski to be the search committee’s chairwoman. But member Daryl Essensa objected, saying that all school board members should first be given the opportunity to send the mayor letters of interest in the post.

Anyone hoping to be considered for the search committee can send a statement of interest and short biography to mayor@greenfield-ma.gov by Nov. 30. Letters can also be addressed to Martin or Vice-chairwoman Maryelen Calderwood and sent to the department’s administrative offices at 141 Davis St. in Greenfield.

Hollins’ remaining time

Hollins plans to retire when her superintendent contract ends on June 30, although she has told the school board she would be open to an earlier end date.

Martin said Thursday that the committee is not interested in finding an additional interim superintendent to serve out the remainder of Hollins’ term. When the school board selects its next superintendent, that individual might be asked if he or she wanted to start the job earlier than July 1, said the mayor.

School board members also decided Wednesday not to do an evaluation of their outgoing superintendent, but the School Committee will work with Hollins to form district goals — an exercise that is normally part of the evaluation and which members felt would be useful ahead of the upcoming search.

Hollins also supported the decision, telling committee members that superintendent applicants are more likely to be interested in joining a department that has a clear plan going forward.

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

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