Extend supt. search with better process
To the editor:
I am writing in response to the letter to the editor from Hulda Jowett (Jan. 28) about the superintendent search in North Adams.
Ms. Jowett is right and I applaud her thoughtful, thorough explanation why North Adams should have a more diverse superintendent search committee and longer search process. The committee is heavily weighted with school employees; we should have more representation on the committee from the city at large and the committee should have more time to make its selection.
Why the short deadline for this search? If Mr. Montepare is "retiring" in April, why is he available as an interim until June? In most school districts, the retirement date is thoughtfully set for the end of the school year with ample time for a search.
The appointment of a new leader for our school system is so important for the future of our children and for our city, that there should be at least six months allowed for a comprehensive look at our needs and time for a geographically wide search for someone who can provide 21st century thinking to all aspects of leading our school district and creating a model school system for Berkshire County, or even the state.
In addition, I would argue that the search process is seriously lacking opportunities for community members to offer their opinions about the qualities they would like to see in the future superintendent. Yes, there is an on-line survey open to all. But, does that reach everyone? Of course not.
I strongly encourage the committee to do as other search committees do and offer several evenings/afternoons for people to speak directly to the search committee members. It is important that a leadership profile and clear expectations be outlined before the search begins and that these be seen as representative of the community at large. Therefore it makes sense to set up focus group meetings for students, public officials, parents, community members, and district employees.
Lastly, I am pleased the search committee is working with the MA Association of School Committees on the search process for applicants. I sincerely hope they will take advantage of the expertise in that organization in all aspects of this most crucial decision, including training in interviewing final candidates.