Greenfield School Department ranks No. 1 in study on female leadership



Staff Writer
Published: 11/12/2021 4:59:31 PM

GREENFIELD — Out of 180 school districts with more than 1,500 students, the Greenfield School Department ranked No. 1 in representation of women at the administrative level.

The report, released by the Boston-based Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy, was based on a scoring system that factored in whether a district has had a female superintendent in the last 10 years, as well as percentages of female principals in the district and the makeup of the district’s school board.

The report notes that the gender analyses for the study included only male and female categorizations, given limitations in accessing data on nonbinary and transgender individuals in publicly reported data systems.

Greenfield, the only Franklin County school district included in the report, received 100 points, compared to runner-up Lincoln-Sudbury with a score of 94.3 points.

“It’s pretty fascinating,” said School Committee Chair Amy Proietti. “We rocked it.”

With the recent hiring of Superintendent Christine DeBarge, the Greenfield School Department is marking 13 years of having superintendents who are women.

“We also have a long history of School Committee members being female,” she added. “I did notice they didn’t count us as having a female assistant superintendent, but we do now. It’s kind of cool we’re a leader in that way.”

The district also recently hired Christina Huff to serve as an assistant principal at Greenfield High School.

Proietti noted that the research only included schools with enrollments greater than 1,500, which in Franklin County, would only include Greenfield.

“I wonder how well it’s truly a measure,” she said. “But it’s certainly interesting.”

According to the report, despite the fact women make up 75% of the state’s teaching force and — as a whole — out-qualify men when it comes to credentialing and experience, they only hold 39% of superintendencies.

“I can’t speak to why there’s that difference,” DeBarge said. “I do feel through my own interview process, most recently, the committee was looking for the best match for the district — looking at the applicants from an objective standpoint.”

DeBarge said across the district, Greenfield is fortunate to have “very strong, highly qualified, very caring administrators.”

Proietti said while it was a “thrill” to make the top of the list, the district is always looking for ways to improve.

“We are working so hard to find a foothold in attracting teachers and administrators that look like our students do,” she said. “We’re not even close to there.”

Like other districts around Greenfield, she said, the district’s workforce isn’t representative of its students, a significant portion of whom are people of color.

“We know it’s detrimental,” she said.

Of the 180 districts included in the report, 80% of districts had never had a superintendent of color, and in general, people of color were severely underrepresented at every level of public education.

“I’m hoping we get some momentum soon to attract educators who look like our students,” she said. “It’s important for them to see people doing jobs they can do.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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