Pioneer begins looking outside the box with supt. search

  • With Superintendent Ruth Miller leaving in June 2018, Pioneer is wondering how to replace her. Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline

Recorder Staff
Published: 10/20/2017 10:38:40 PM

NORTHFIELD — In their first meeting to discuss replacing Superintendent Ruth Miller, Pioneer Valley Regional School District’s Superintendent Search Committee decided to scope out the possibility of sharing administrators with another school district.

The search committee was formed as a result of Miller’s June announcement that she won’t be looking to negotiate a new contract once her current three-year contract is up. If nothing changes, Miller’s last day as superintendent will be June 30.

The five members of the committee are Patricia Shearer, John Rodgers, Jim Bell, Peggy Kaeppel and William Wahlstrom. With all present but Rodgers, the committee overwhelmingly agreed Thursday that the best path for the district is to try to work out some sort of shared superintendent and central office staff arrangement on an interim basis while considering opportunities for sharing central office staff long term.

Each member was assigned a school district to contact to gauge interest in sharing superintendents, business managers or other services on an interim basis. Districts include Frontier Regional School District, the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, the Gill-Montague Regional School District, Franklin County Technical School, the Mohawk Trail Regional School District and Greenfield School Department.

The group also began drafting a letter, which members will share at Thursday’s School Committee meeting, to send as a follow-up to phone calls to each district.

Bernardston Selectman Robert Raymond said local school districts haven’t sought shared services because “nobody wants to give up their autonomy,” but hopes doing so would allow for some financial relief.

“I don’t think the same old model is what we need right now,” Wahlstrom agreed.

The four search committee members agreed an interim arrangement would allow time to find the right long-term solution, considering a crunch in time between now and the end of Miller’s contract.

“This is a big deal,” Shearer said. “We don’t want to end up with someone who doesn’t meet our specifications.”

“The idea of an interim sounds pretty good to me, so we have time to make a good decision,” Bell agreed.

The Superintendent Search Committee will meet again to report back on their conversations with other districts on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. at Pioneer.


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