Lenox ramps up search for short-term schools superintendent


LENOX -- The school district is fast-tracking its search to hire an interim superintendent for the 2014-15 school year, aiming to have a successor to Edward W. Costa II on the job July 1 or soon thereafter. Costa's retirement date is June 30.

At the School Committee meeting on Monday night, Chairman Don W. Fitzgerald emphasized that potential collaboration with another district remains on the table when a more wide-ranging search for a three-year superintendent is conducted next year.

"I don't want anyone to feel that we're no longer looking at collaboration," he said. "The dilemma here is that we have such a tight time frame that the idea is to get an interim who can work with us in developing a cohesive look at collaboration. It's difficult for us to just hitch our cart to somebody else for this year on such short notice."

During the upcoming year, he added, "we'll look at how it could be done, what could it look like if we were to do it. Because there's no guarantee. Whatever we're going to do has to be discussed -- the finances, how it's set up, who does what, who else we're involved with."

"We haven't determined what it could look like because there are a lot of players who are now talking," Fitzgerald said. "We have multiple districts in Southern Berkshire that have all responded to this situation with Dr. Costa retiring. They've expressed an interest to be involved with us, to at least just sit down and talk, to see what this would look like if we were to do it different."

He confirmed that the committee has been approached by the Lee, Richmond, Berkshire Hills and Southern Berkshire districts, all seeking a discussion on some form of collaboration "involving shared services, people and process."

Fitzgerald also noted that the discussion could go beyond a superintendent -- "it could be all of the central office, business managers, special education directors. How can we do this slightly differently, slightly better, so no one loses their autonomy, their control over what they do, yet how can we keep all the good things that we have and do it better so we can hold on to it longer."

Faculty, staff and community involvement in the decision-making is a certainty, he added. "In reality, we've got to get complete buy-in by as many people as possible."

"It's important to weigh out all the factors that affect leadership in this district," said School Committee Vice Chairman Veronica Fenton, who's leading the superintendent search subcommittee. "At this point, we're wanting strong leadership to move forward and to be able to think about various strategies."

The vacancy for an interim leader posted for a 10-day period ending May 30. Following a executive session to sift through applications, a public School Committee meeting to interview several finalists is scheduled for Monday, June 9, at 6 p.m. in Town Hall.

Among the contenders will be Morris Elementary School Principal Timothy Lee, who is state-licensed for a superintendent's position. Lee confirmed on Tuesday that he intends to submit his application.

According to Fenton, the decision to fill an interim, one-year post was based on the time of the year "and the many other goals and discussions that are happening relative to a strategic plan. In light of that, we're doing an abbreviated search for a one-year position. Next year, we have an opportunity to formulate what it is that we think is in the best interests of the Lenox public schools for our ongoing leadership positions."

The widely discussed strategic study remains a work in progress, two months beyond the original deadline for its completion. On May 14, the 13-member subcommittee was unable to agree on wording of vision and mission statements or on major action steps during two hours of sometimes-contentious discussion. A followup session posted for Wednesday, May 21 had to be canceled for lack of a quorum.

"We want to be as open and as careful as possible on how we go about this," Fenton stressed, responding to School Committee member Michael Moran's concern that the superintendent search be hastened to avoid any gap between Costa's departure and the start date for his interim successor.

Some resumes from potential candidates already are on hand, she noted. "Our focus is to have this done before Ed's official retirement so we can have as smooth a transition as possible," Fenton declared. "We're moving at a pretty good clip here."

According to the posting to appear in The Eagle and on the industry site Schoolspring.com, the successful candidate must have administrative experience and be licensed as a superintendent by the state. The one-year contract would include a "competitive salary for the region commensurate with qualifications and experience, and a comprehensive benefits package."

Costa 's current annual salary is $115,000.

Lenox superintendent search ...

Here are the demonstrated leadership "skills and attributes" listed in the job posting for the interim, one-year opening in Lenox:

♦ Hiring administrative staff who have demonstrated their ability within their own areas of expertise and who are creative, innovative education leaders who have a passion for education and for children;

♦ Communicating in a manner that brings together all stakeholders both in the Lenox Public School community and the Lenox community as a whole;

♦ Building strong relationships with faculty and staff that foster an excellent academic and professional environment for all;

 Developing curriculum that provides educational opportunities for all learners within the Lenox Public School community while integrating strategies to effectively evaluate student growth and learning for both self-evaluation and to satisfy state and federal requirements;

 Budgeting for the Lenox Public Schools including the ability to set short- and long-term financial goals and priorities for the district;

 Managing personnel relative to collective bargaining, evaluation and contract compliance.

Applicants must submit a letter of interest addressed to Veronica Fenton, Lenox School Committee Vice Chairman, by 3 p.m. May 30, in a sealed envelope to the School Department, Lenox Town Hall, 6 Walker Street, Lenox MA 01240.

To contact Clarence Fanto:


or (413) 637-2551.

On Twitter: @BE_cfanto


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