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Mohawk supt. offers to stay with Rowe

Buoniconti offers to reopen discussions for 3-district agreement

ROWE — Despite giving notice he would not renew his contract with Rowe next summer, school Superintendent Michael Buoniconti has offered to stay on as superintendent, if the town School Committee wants him to continue.

He also offered to reopen discussions with the Hawlemont and Mohawk districts, if Rowe is interested in continuing a three-district cost-sharing agreement for administrative services provided by the superintendent’s Central Office. Hawlemont and Mohawk committees gave Rowe a 10-month notice that they would not be renewing a three-year cost sharing agreement, following Buoniconti’s action in June.

Buoniconti made his offer of help to the School Committee Thursday night — a week after the board had listened to proposals from another superintendent and from two retired superintendents who are now educational consultants.

Buoniconti said he is concerned that “uncertainty regarding Central Office support” could have an adverse impact on Rowe students and educators.

In a letter he read to the School Committee, Buoniconti said he gave a year’s notice to the committee after it failed to join the Mohawk and Hawlemont school committees in negotiating a contract renewal last spring — even through Rowe School Committee member Lisa Danek Burke attended those negotiations, but was not given authority to act on her school committee’s behalf.

“I interpreted the Rowe School committee’s lack of participation in my contract negotiations to be a clear indication that it was not interested in continuing my services as its superintendent,” Buoniconti explained. “There was no communication from the Rowe School Committee to indicate differently.”

“Based on my perception that the Rowe School Committee was not interested in continuing my employment,” he continued, “ I decided to provide the chairperson with a one-year notice, instead of ninety days. I believed that the additional nine months’ notice would be helpful to the (committee) as it transitions to new educational leadership.”

Buoniconti said he is willing to help, either by serving Rowe through June, when the current contract expires, or to support the school board in its transition, if it decides to pursue a different superintendent structure.

The school board did not comment or take action on Buoniconti’s offer.

And when audience members asked when the Oct. 10 discussion about superintendent options will be continued, Rowe Chairwoman Lisa Miller said another school board meeting will be set up for that purpose.

She said she is waiting to hear from North Berkshire School Union Superintendent Jonathan Lev, who is to tell his school union towns of Rowe’s interest in joining the North Berkshire union at a meeting scheduled for Oct. 21.

Lev recently described what services his superintendent’s office could provide Rowe. Rowe’s joining the district would require a vote by the other union school committees.

Rowe’s school budget has grown leaner with the loss of School Choice revenues since the school building burned down in 2012.

Buoniconti said budget planning for next year should include a “contingency plan,” in case the new Rowe Elementary School, which broke ground on Oct. 8, isn’t ready in time for classes by August next year.

Rowe has been leasing classroom space in the Hawlemont School building since the fire.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
dbroncaccio@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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