Wednesday May 9, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The superintendent of a Worcester area school system is the only candidate being considered to become Pittsfield's new school superintendent.

The School Committee tonight plans to interview Reza Namin of the Spencer-East Brookfield Regional School District. He was the only finalist put forward by a superintendent screening committee.

The question-and-answer session with Namin is at 6 p.m. in the Pittsfield High School library.

Namin is in the first year of a three-year contract at Spencer-East Brookfield, his third superintendency in seven years. The former chemistry and physical science teacher previously ran the Mahar Regional School District in Orange (2005-09) and Westbrook School Department in West brook, Maine, (2009-11), according to his application.

He still resides in the Portland area, listing Old Orchard Beach -- 130 miles northeast of Spencer -- as his permanent address.

In all, Namin has spent nearly 20 years in public education at seven school districts in Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island.

Namin was one of 10 applicants looking to succeed Howard "Jake" Eberwein III, who announced in early January he was leaving the post at the end of the school year.

The city's deputy superintendent, Bar bara Malkas, had applied for the job, but dropped out of the running two weeks ago when she named superintendent in the Webster Public Schools.


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Since the screening committee first met April 24, it reviewed six of the nine remaining resumes, interviewed three of the six for an hour each, with the majority of the 17-member panel approving Namin as a finalist, according to committee chairwoman, Kathleen A. Amuso.

"Based on his qualifications, some committee members wanted to forward his name to let the School Committee do a more in-depth interview," said Amuso, also a School Committee member.

The screening committee was charged with -- but not required to -- recommend up to three finalists. Never theless, a single finalist is disconcerting to School Com mittee Chairman Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga.

"I suggest if we had 30 to 40 candidates, we would have a much different situation," Barbalunga said. "I also think the pay range we offered contributed to the lack of candidates."

The Pittsfield job's salary is advertised in the range of $125,000 and $145,000. The superintendent oversees Berk shire County's largest school district -- 6,132 students as of Oct. 1 -- and the third largest employer with nearly 1,200 teachers, administrators and support staff.

By comparison, Malkas will earn a minimum of $140,000 managing a Webster school system one-third the size of Pittsfield's.

Barbalunga felt the city's school superintendency also had few takers because more than 40 other Massachusetts school districts were in the midst of or had completed superintendent searches, before the Pittsfield School Committee began accepting applications in early March.

"We were so far behind the eight-ball when we started this process," he said.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.