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Four finalists for Gill-Montague superintendent

TURNERS FALLS — It looks as though there will be a new hand on the tiller of the Gill-Montague public schools.

Nancy Daniel Green of the superintendent search sub-committee Thursday presented the Gill-Montague Regional School Committee with the names of four finalists: Patricia E. Gardner, Brian Beck, Michael E. Sullivan and Maureen Ward.

However, Friday Hopkins Academy of Hadley announced that Brian Beck had just been hired to be that school’s new principal.

The 12-member screening committee has met since mid-January to prepare for and review applications.

Gardner, the only internal candidate, has worked for the Gill-Montague district since 2010, originally as assistant principal of Turners Falls High School and promoted to principal this school year.

According to a list from Patricia Correira, the Massachusetts Association of School Committees consultant hired to help guide the search, Sullivan is Assistant Superintendent for Learning in the Longmeadow Public Schools, a position he has held since 2011, having served as principal of Longmeadow’s Glenbrook Middle School since 2006.

Ward is superintendent of School Administrative Unit 18 in New Hampshire’s Franklin and Hill School Districts. According to Correira’s information he has held the position since 2010, having previously held the position of Area Superintendent of School Administrative Unit 21 in Hampton, N.H.

Beck has worked in the Athol-Royalston Regional School District as principal of Athol High School since 2010 and was principal of Mohawk Trail Regional High School from 2006 to 2010.

The School Committee is scheduled to make a final decision April 11 following the final candidate interview.

Members of the School Committee and now dissolved search committee are scheduled to visit the candidates in their home districts next week.

The candidates are scheduled to visit the Gill-Montague schools two weeks later, with each visit including a community meet and greet in the Turners Falls High School lobby from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Sullivan is scheduled for April 8, Gardner for April 9, Beck would have been on April 10 and Ward for April 11.

The district has been without a permanent superintendent since Carl Ladd’s resignation in May 2011. Ladd was followed by Nadine Ekstrom, who left after a year in the interim position, declining the School Committee’s offer of a three-year contract to take a job as superintendent of Berlin-Boylston Public Schools. Current Interim Superintendent Mark Prince replaced Ekstrom in July 2012 on a one-year contract.

State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester in January established a finish line for the district’s status as a Level 4 or “underperforming” district.

The first step is the hiring of a permanent superintendent.

As advertised, the job offers $130,000 to $160,000 with benefits and a three-year contract to govern the 1,051-student district, covering Gill and Montague with Erving students taken through a tuition agreement.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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