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Hollins clarifies comments about her role in restoring Greenfield school system

GREENFIELD — In an entry in her public online journal, School Superintendent Susan Hollins backtracked on comments she made earlier this month when she said she is “the person who redesigned (the Greenfield School Department) from rubble.”

She said her comments weren’t intended to slight administrators and teachers who worked with her to rebuild the department after the financial crisis and School Choice mass exodus of 2008.

Hollins — who hasn’t yet stated her intentions to leave or stay beyond this year — made the original comment at a Sept. 11 School Committee meeting during a conversation about the superintendent evaluation process.

She questioned if that was the best use of their mutual time together, pointing out that she wanted to pass along information about how to run the schools before her contract runs out in June.

“I am the person that redesigned your entire school system from rubble,” said Hollins at the meeting. “I am a repository of a terrific amount of knowledge about the school system. ... What’s the best way I can get you the information that you’re going to need to carry on, whenever that is?”

Recorder columnist Chris Collins criticized her remarks in his most recent “In the Arena” column.

“I very much believe Greenfield is a better school system because of Hollins,” wrote Collins. “But I also think that anyone who suggests that she, alone, is responsible for the turnaround of Greenfield’s public schools is suffering from a severe departure from reality.”

In a journal post last week, Hollins expressed concern about her comment and clarified the importance teamwork had played in the rebuilding process. She revisited the issue again in Sunday’s entry.

“(Collins) is completely right that public figures sometimes say something in haste and pay for it later. The second after I made the comment he references, I regretted it,” wrote Hollins. “It sounded wrong when I said it and it sounded worse in the paper.”

“Nothing has happened in Greenfield without teamwork. ... You couldn’t ask for a more talented or committed faculty than in Greenfield,” she continued. Hollins then highlighted the efforts of administrators and teachers as well as food service, technology and custodial workers.

At that Sept. 11 meeting, the School Committee talked about, but did not officially vote on, simultaneously starting both Hollins’ evaluation and a superintendent search.

Neither the school board nor Hollins are ruling out a seventh year for the superintendent in 2014. But either party must give at least 90 days notice if they intend to go separate ways.

Hollins’ journal — which has been read nearly 250,000 times since she started it six years ago — can be read at: http://gpsk12.org/gps_updates/superintendentjournal.html

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