Greenfield superintendent offered contract through 2021

  • HARPER

  • Greenfield High School seniors place their hands on their hearts during the Pledge of Allegiance on June 1 at the school. Recorder file photo

Recorder Staff
Published: 7/17/2018 8:37:57 PM

GREENFIELD — Over two weeks past deadline, the Greenfield School Committee and Superintendent Jordana Harper agreed on a new, three-year contract Tuesday.

Citing the formality of the process, abutted by lawyers, and a close review of contractual language, the contract took longer than expected to resolve, School Committee members said Tuesday after a special meeting. But both sides said they were pleased to come to an agreement on a pact.

“We’re pleased to have some continuity and leadership,” School Committee Chairwoman Adrienne Nunez said.

“I’m really thrilled the committee voted today to offer me a contract,” Harper said. “I really love the people of Greenfield and it’s a real honor to lead this school system.”

Harper, who has been the superintendent of Greenfield Public Schools since 2014, was offered a contract extending her through the 2021 school year, with a salary of about $154,000 through the upcoming school year.

The contract over its life is about a $13,000 increase from what she was paid in the 2017-18 school year, and about a $6,500 difference from what was budgeted for the position for the current year. It reflects a roughly 1 percent raise because other parts of her contract that were budgeted elsewhere in the total school spending plan, like an annuity clause and reimbursement for short-term leave, are now included. Harper will receive about $156,300 in the 2020 school year and $158,600 in 2021.

While the contract was approved unanimously by the School Committee — aside from an abstention from Susan Hollins, the previous superintendent of the schools — it’s a matter of formality before Harper is officially under contract. She still needs to review the paperwork and sign it.

Reacting to Hollins’ abstention, Harper said, “I would’ve wished for a unanimous support from my committee, especially from those who know the job well.”

Hollins left the meeting before its formal adjournment. She explained her abstention later in the day, when reached by email.

“As the prior Greenfield superintendent of schools I am in a unique position and, thinking it over, I decided I should abstain,” Hollins wrote. “My abstention was not related to Superintendent Harper continuing.”

The salary increase is not expected to significantly alter the school’s budget, Nunez said. The committee had been preparing this contract for months, after offering Harper a one-year extension the year before so there could be a more in-depth conversation.

“The important part, to me, is to make sure I have plenty of time to do the work,” Harper said. “It’s really a team approach. It’s what makes it work. There are great people behind every success.

“What was important to me was I could do my job well in the community.”

“It’s been a long time playing with the words and language,” said Mayor William Martin, a School Committee member who served as chairman last year when the board gave the superintendent the extension.

That contract conversation spilled over a couple of weeks into the current fiscal year, but Nunez emphasized the schools were never without leadership.

During the process, which included several meetings and anticipations of a contract being settled, the School Committee elected not to address the question from the public of who is in charge while Harper is without a contract. Instead, Nunez said, information about the talks was kept quiet.

“It’s a quite important negotiation,” Nunez said. “The superintendent’s seat is a very important position.” She said she is pleased with the interest over it, citing numerous individuals who’ve offered public comment and emails she’s received.

Harper echoed her appreciation.

“It’s great to have public interest,” Harper said about the contract. “It’s very important to our democracy that our community is dedicated to our students succeeding.”

Part of the stirring over the superintendent’s contract came during a time of change in the school administration. Longtime Greenfield Middle School Principal Gary Tashjian announced his retirement in June and effective in September, Director of Pupil Services Diane Ellis has resigned from her role to take a position in the Gill-Montague School District. Greenfield also recently hired a new school business manager.

Harper said she expects these positions to be filled by the time the school year begins.

Now that the contract is settled, Harper said she is looking forward to serving the students of Greenfield, “I love working in Greenfield. I love the students, the teachers and such a talented team of administrators.”

Also at Tuesday’s special meeting, the board decided to complete the superintendent evaluation from this past school year on Aug. 16.

You can reach
Joshua Solomon at:

 jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264




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