LEE — The only two candidates vying to lead the Lee Public Schools — and keep their current day job — will initially be queried in a public forum next week.
On Jan. 26, the Lee-Tyringham Union 29 committee charged with hiring the Lee K-12 district's top educator plans to interview Timothy Lee at 5 p.m., followed by Peter Dillon at 7 p.m.
Lee, superintendent of the Lenox Public Schools since last February, and Dillon, the day-to-day boss the past seven years of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District, representing Great Barrington, Stockbridge and West Stockbridge, were the only candidates to answer the call from the union committee for a shared superintendent.
The committee had planned to meet the candidates in executive session to determine if either should be asked back for public interviews, but given that the two applicants made their intentions known to their respective school boards, Lee school officials felt Round 1 should be conducted in open session.
However, Lee School Committee Chairwoman Andrea Wadsworth noted that the committee, along with the teachers union president, two building principals and Lee's director of student services will question each candidate over a 90-minute period.
Should a second round of interviews be held, the public will get to ask questions then, according to Wadsworth.
If the Union 29 committee goes the shared superintendent route, it would be on a trial basis. "We would like to do a year pilot," Wadsworth said. "We don't want to lock into a three-year contract, and Peter or Tim may not want to do three years."
Lee is entering somewhat uncharted territory as only two other K-12 school districts have ever shared a superintendent, according to the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.
Wadsworth found mixed reaction to a shared superintendent, some fearing he or she won't give a personal touch to running the school district.
"I come from a small town where some think the superintendent should roam the halls of our schools, and others think [the person] should operate from 30,000 feet," she said.
Since July 2013, Lee schools have operated under interim Superintendent Al Skrocki, who came out of retirement to succeed Jason "Jake" McCandless. McCandless left Lee to take the reins of the Pittsfield Public Schools.
Union 29 held off searching for a permanent superintendent in order to do a self-assessment regarding the future administrative, financial and educational direction of the district. Last fall, the union committee finally decided to advertise for a shared superintendent, prompting Dillon and Lee to apply for the position with the blessing and cautious optimism of their respective school boards.
As the Lee-Tyringham committee prepares to interview the two candidates, the logistics of a shared superintendent need to be worked out, Lee school officials said, such as time the he spends in each district, if the superintendent needs additional administrative help and where the superintendent is based.
What: Lee-Tyringham Union 29 superintendent interviews.
When: Jan. 26: 5 p.m. Timothy Lee, 7 p.m. Peter Dillon
Where: Lee Middle and High School Auditorium, 300 Greylock St., Lee