Monday January 7, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- The committee reviewing potential candidates for the school superintendent opening expects to have a list of semifinalists vying for the position by early this week.

On Tuesday, the Superintendent Screening Committee is scheduled to determine which of the 18 applicants is worthy of being questioned by the nine-member ad hoc panel. The committee will meet in executive session to discuss and chose the six to eight people it will interview behind closed doors on Jan. 16 and 17.

Under the state’s open meeting law, only the finalists are interviewed in a public meeting. The screening committee plans to submit at least three final candidates for consideration to the Pittsfield School Committee on Jan. 23. The school board has set Feb. 27 as its deadline to vote on a new superintendent.

The screening committee unveiled its timeline Thursday night at a public meeting in the Pittsfield Public Schools administration building. While the two-hour session was the panel’s first official gathering since being appointed in mid-December, individual members have been doing their homework on the potential candidates.

"We should be wrapping up our review of the applications online and on your own time," said Kathleen A. Amuso, to the rest of the committee, who was elected chairwoman. She is the school board’s representative on the screening panel.


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The School Committee is seeking to replace Howard "Jake" Eberwein III, who left the district June 30 and since has taken a job at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Gordon Noseworthy was hired in June as interim superintendent for one year, after a prior superintendent search that produced only nine candidates. In May, the School Committee decided against hiring a finalist submitted by a previous search committee.

The School Committee has since hired Future Management Systems of Beverly, a consultant firm costing $22,000, to assist in the latest search.

William Garr, executive vice president of Future Management Systems, says the 18 applicants include current superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals and others in the education field from across the country.

"I will tell you, one or two are strong candidates to be finalists elsewhere," Garr said.

The consultant’s duties include conducting thorough background checks on the candidates and, through focus groups, determining what city residents are looking for in their next superintendent.

The ability to engage the public, shared leadership and being invested in the city are among the superintendent traits that have emerged, according to Garr.

"The ability to work with diversity also loomed large with the focus groups," he said.

The school board has agreed to offer a salary range of $150,000 to $170,000 for the post, which is $25,000 to $45,000 more than Eberwein was earning.

However, Eberwein did not accept a pay raise above his $125,000 salary during his four years as superintendent.

Eberwein’s successor will oversee Berkshire County’s largest school district -- 6,161 students as of Oct. 1 -- and third-largest employer with nearly 1,200 teachers, administrators and support staff.

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