Southern Berkshire Regional School District hires Beth Regalbuto as new superintendant

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SHEFFIELD — "Dynamic, smart and articulate."

That was the impression School Committee Chairman Carl Stewart had of Beth Regalbuto, who is set to be the next superintendent of the Southern Berkshire Regional School District.

Regalbuto, associate superintendent of the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District, was offered the job following a three-hour interview on Thursday night. The vote was 8-2.

Stewart, and members Marcella Bush, Fran Lartigue, David Travis, Maryellen Brown, Bonnie Silvers, H. Dennis Sears and Bob Law voted in favor. Members Charlie Flynn and Art Batacchi were opposed. Six votes, or a simple majority, were required.

"I'm drawn to the unmitigated enthusiasm of the people I've met since I first interviewed in January," Regalbuto said after the meeting. "I'm impressed with the team of leaders we have here."

After the vote, the committee went into executive session to begin contract negotiations to discuss salary and benefits. No salary was specified, but Superintendent David Hastings, who is retiring at the end of the school year, earns $123,000 annually. Regalbuto's salary is expected to be somewhere south of that figure.

Prior to the vote, the School Committee praised both Regalbuto and the other finalist, Mary Jane Rickson, assistant superintendent and principal at Pathfinder Regional School District in Palmer.

Both candidates were lauded for their professionalism and energy.

But Regalbuto seemed to stand out slightly more, according to committee members who favored her.

"I spoke to a total of [26] people," Sears said, referring to a site visit at Regalbuto's district. "And usually you'll get one or two or more people saying something less than glowing. But everyone I spoke to was very, very positive about Beth."

Law said he spent several hours with both candidates when they visited the district, "and I got to know both of them quite well."

He said he was impressed with Regalbuto as "an inventive thinker who was very proactive."

"I think," Silvers said, "we will be in good hands with Beth."

Batacchi did not articulate his reasons for voting for Rickson. But Flynn said he was impressed with Rickson's extensive vocational educational background. Vocational education, Flynn said, was an area in which Southern Berkshire could improve.

Prior to the vote, Regalbuto was subjected to a dizzying array of questions, from her management strategies, to funding issues to communicating with the public.

A sampling of her responses:

- On deciding to apply to Southern Berkshire: "For me, it's all about finding the right fit, and finding a district where I think I can make a difference."

- On her management style: "It's a lot about listening to what a community wants. How are we going to get to our goals? And it's about relationship building. People need to know me. I try to build consensus because we're not always going to agree. But in the end, this is a team effort."

- On finding potential new sources of revenue for the district, as budgets tighten up: "Parents contribute a lot as it is. You get to a point where you need bigger solutions. I think we need to find better ways to be more efficient. You have to look at all pieces of an operation before we go back to the towns for more money. It's not so much finding revenue sources as running more efficiently."

- On communication with the School Committee and the public, especially at budget time: "I try to be always sharing information with the committee.It starts with the [financial] goals of the committee and the goals of the district. You make the best [budget] plan you can and state your case. But you have to make sure that people hear the plan before it gets to town meeting floor."

Reach staff writer Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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