Second  G-M Supt. candidate comes from within

TURNERS FALLS — Gill-Montague Regional School Committee Tuesday interviewed Patricia E. Gardner, the sole internal candidate for the Gill-Montague superintendent’s job.

Gardner entered the district in 2011 as the Turners Falls High School assistant principal and was promoted to principal in her second year.

Gardner said she has taught at the middle and high school levels in Springfield and South Carolina, and worked as an administrator at every level, most recently as program director for the Westfield State College Center for Teacher Education.

Gardner was recently a finalist for superintendent of the Southern Berkshire Regional School District.

Gardner said this is her 29th year in education and she could see herself finishing her career in Gill-Montague.

“I feel like I’ve been in the trenches, shoulder to shoulder with the people I work with and I feel like we’re already fixing things, we’ve already fixed a lot of things and that’s why I want to stay here,” she said, adding she would like to lead the district out of Level 4 but not out of continued improvement.

Asked about her budget experience, Gardner said she had a $3.5-million, grant-funded budget at Westfield State. In terms of the Gill-Montague budget, she said the district needs to think ahead in its budget process about what the district should be and how it should grow. Gardner pointed to retention of new teachers at the high school this year, as a success and as a cost the district should plan for as teachers stay on.

Asked about managing the district’s reputation, Gardner suggested television advertising.

“(There are) amazing things happening in our schools every day, more amazing things than other schools that get more press than we do,” she said.

Gardner’s was the second of three interviews for the position, to conclude Thursday with Maureen Ward’s interview at 6 p.m. in the high school, followed by a decision from the School Committee and preceded by a meet-and-greet with the candidate beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Gill-Montague has been without a permanent superintendent for two years. Current Interim Superintendent Mark Prince’s one-year contract is set to expire on June 30. Prince said he did not apply for the permanent position for personal and professional reasons.

Hiring a superintendent in a permanent rather than interim capacity is the next of two prerequisites for the district’s removal from Level 4 or underperforming status, as recently laid out by the state education commissioner.

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