Dillon, Lee among finalists for superintendent of Richmond, Hancock schools

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RICHMOND — Berkshire Hills Regional School District Superintendent Peter Dillon and Lenox Schools Superintendent Timothy Lee are among the finalists for a shared-services superintendent post for Shaker Mountain School Union 70 serving Richmond, Hancock and New Ashford.

Also named by the school union's 11-member search committee following all-day closed-door interviews and discussions was Mark Prince of Amherst, a "traditional candidate" seeking the three-day-a-week position.

Prince, currently an independent educational consultant, told The Eagle that he has been an education specialist with the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, an elementary school principal in Amherst, interim superintendent for the Gill-Montague Regional Schools, assistant superintendent for the Framingham school district, and director of academic effectiveness for the Northampton school system.

Two other educators also were interviewed as "traditional" applicants, but were not named as finalists.

Superintendent Douglas Dias of the Williamstown-Lanesborough School District, who had also applied for a shared services arrangement, withdrew before the interviews.

The three finalists, approved unanimously by the search committee on Monday afternoon, have agreed to move on to the next step — interviews by the Shaker Mountain Union School Committee in a public session on a date to be announced. That group, made up of three representatives from each of the Richmond, Hancock and New Ashford school committees, will make the final choice.

If either Dillon or Lee is selected, negotiations would follow with the Berkshire Hills or Lenox school committees to determine how the shared-services arrangement would work, said William Cameron, interim superintendent of the Shaker Mountain School Union and a member of the search committee.

The approved budgeted salary for the School Union 70 superintendent post is up to $69,500, Cameron added.

But a shared-services superintendent position is "uncharted territory," he said.

"I don't know of any school district in Massachusetts that has a shared superintendency arrangement," Cameron said.

Determining how a shared superintendent would handle the workload for two school districts is "uncharted waters," agreed Hancock Elementary School Principal Tracey Tierney, who chaired the search committee.

"If that's the direction the union would like to go into, obviously we're going to get into some serious discussion, negotiate and work on that," she said.

Cameron, a former superintendent of the Central Berkshire Regional School District and an assistant superintendent for the Pittsfield Public Schools, said that although the school union superintendency agreement envisions two days in Richmond and one in Hancock, "in practice you are where you need to be at any given time."

"The objective here is not to reduce any services that the current arrangement provides to the district," he pointed out. "Whether those services always have to be provided by the superintendent is another matter." Under a shared services arrangement, he noted, a superintendent may delegate certain responsibilities to others on staff.

As for his experience as the interim superintendent since last Nov. 1, Cameron conceded that "budget season is much more hectic, and collective bargaining can get hectic, though so far it hasn't been." Payroll, budget and personnel issues have been among his other responsibilities, as well as meetings with the selectmen and finance committees of Richmond, Hancock and New Ashford.

Besides Cameron and Tierney, the search committee included Monica Zanin, principal of the Richmond Consolidated School; Valerie Kohn, a sixth-grade teacher at Hancock Elementary; Sharon Renfrew, who teaches Richmond middle schoolers; and Jenevra Strock, the special education director for the school union. Also on the committee were parent representatives from each of the three towns.

The Shaker Mountain School Union oversees the Richmond Consolidated School, serving 177 students from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade, and the Hancock Elementary School, with 44 students enrolled. New Ashford's pre-K through sixth grade students attend the Hancock school under a tuition agreement.

Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.


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