LENOX -- The search for a new Morris Elementary school principal is on an express track, with a goal of hiring a replacement for Timothy Lee by the end of July.

Lee is the incoming interim superintendent for the district, succeeding Edward W. Costa II, who’s retiring on Monday after four years in the position.

During a briefing for the School Committee on Monday night, Lee noted that a typical elementary-school principal search takes four to six months. But since the position is open as of July 1, he plans to accelerate the hunt and compress it into the next four weeks.

The post, with a three-year contract, is being advertised on the district website, in local media and on SchoolSpring, an online site for educators. By the end of this week, Lee said, an online survey will allow parents, staff and community members to suggest top-priority qualifications, such as areas of knowledge and communications skills.

The survey at lenoxps.org will be available until July 7, when applicants will be screened by a committee including faculty, parents and community representatives, as well as Lee.

"If we’re not satisfied with the candidates we’ve been presented, if we don’t feel like we want to interview any of them because they don’t meet the qualifications or desired qualities," Lee said, "I may elect to re-post the position immediately as an interim appointment."

Under that scenario, a different type of applicant would be sought, and a new, full-fledged search would start during the 2014-15 school year for a long-term candidate.

But if suitable candidates emerge by mid-July, preliminary interviews would be conducted by a group of up to five local educators, several non-faculty staffers, as well as parents and possibly a community representative from the Morris School Council. Lee explained that he is choosing to not take part in those interviews but plans to appoint a chairperson for the interview committee.

"It’s a way of trying to separate myself a little bit from my current role as principal from what other folks might want to see in somebody else coming into the role," Lee said.

Ideally, the committee would present two or three candidates to Lee, followed by final interviews that he would conduct along with the school district’s Business Administrator Hank Maimin. the middle and high school principal Mike Knybel and perhaps another administrator.

If a finalist emerges, Lee said, he would do pre-employment checks and aim to enter into an agreement with the chosen candidate by the end of July. Lee would advise School Committee Chairman Don W. Fitzgerald about the outcome.

"Good luck," Fitzgerald said. "It’s a tough task to do it right."

Lee acknowledged that at this time of year, many in the job market have found positions. "Lately, the pool of qualified principal candidates has been rather small," he said. "That’s the environment we’ll be working in, and we’ll give it a try."

Voicing optimism over the prospects of the quick search, Costa, the schools superintendent, told The Eagle on Tuesday that "the attraction to Lenox is unlike any other community. It’s exactly why I applied here four years ago. Lenox is the place to be in this county for education."

"I think because it’s Lenox and it’s offering a full-time, permanent three-year contract," he added, "we will get people anywhere in the state and probably in a three-state area to come look at us. I think Tim will do a great job and get some quality applicants."

The job posting calls for a "collaborative and creative educational leader with an ability to sustain academic skill growth at a high level while supporting a learning environment that values children and childhood."

The position requires a master’s degree in education or educational leadership, a state principal’s license, at least five years of successful experience as a teacher and three years in a leadership role. Desired experience and skills include in-depth knowledge of the state’s Common Core curriculum standards, strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as the ability to create and maintain productive school-community partnerships.

The salary is described as "regionally competitive." In his sixth year as principal at Morris, Lee earned just over $100,000.

To contact Clarence Fanto:
cfanto@yahoo.com or (413) 637-2551.
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