NORTH ADAMS — The School Committee has begun the process of searching for a replacement for Superintendent James Montepare, who formally announced his retirement on Tuesday.
Montepare, who has 41 years of service in the district, will retire April 1. The committee expects to have a replacement appointed by March 24 and have that person start work on July 1.
Montepare first came to the district in 1975 as a special education teacher before working his way up the district's ranks. He was appointed to superintendent full-time in 2003 where he has remained until his retirement.
"It's really hard to leave, but sometimes it's time," Montepare told the committee.
Late last year, Montepare notified Mayor Richard Alcombright and the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, which will provide technical assistance during the search for his replacement, of his intention to retire in the spring.
"It's kind of a bittersweet moment," said Alcombright, who also serves as the committee's chairman. "At some level, we expected it, but we never wanted to see it come."
Longtime School Committee Member Mark Moulton also thanked Montepare for his years of service.
"There is no one in this district who loves this district more than you do," Moulton said.
But the committee had little time for reflection, getting right into the work of establishing a search process with the assistance of Pat Correria, field director for the state school committees association.
"I think it's imperative to the district that we conduct as comprehensive a search as we can, and create a public process that supports that search," Alcombright said.
Rather than pay the association about $12,000 to conduct the search on the district's behalf, the committee voted unanimously to conduct the search itself with the MASC's technical assistance. The association will assist by hosting a public survey and screening applicants to ensure they meet basic qualifications.
"We're going to do everything we can to help you along," Correria said.
The search committee, expected to be appointed next week, will consist of nine members who will interview and narrow down a pool of semifinalists. It will include two community members, two parents, an administrator, one member of the support staff, one teacher, one member of the City Council, and one member of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts community.
While the job posting is advertised for a six-week period, the MASC support team will conduct a public survey of North Adams to see what qualities the public will look for in a superintendent.
In March, the three to five finalists selected by the search committee will be interviewed by the School Committee in open session. The winning candidate will be chosen on March 24, according to the committee's search timeline.
The new superintendent would likely not be able to start until July, leaving a three-month gap in the position after Montepare retires. Alcombright indicated that he would likely ask Montepare to stay on as interim superintendent until his replacement can begin.
Though Montepare did not speak at length about his retirement during the meeting, he thanked the committee in a formal written notice of retirement.
"I wish only the best for the children, employees and the entire North Adams Public Schools community," he wrote. "I will continue to be your biggest fan; I am a better man for having known each of you."