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Letter: Mount Greylock should keep district's DEIB director position

To the editor: At the March 9 Mount Greylock School Committee meeting, Superintendent Jake McCandless explained his plan to cut the vacant director of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) position from next year’s budget.

School district leaders missed out on multiple viable candidates during lengthy search processes this past year and may lack the time and capacity to complete a successful national search. Instead of cutting this “vital, hyper-important” position, as the superintendent described it, School Committee members should honor the commitment they made a year ago and hire the director of DEIB through a search firm.

Meanwhile, the superintendent has invested in collecting data on belonging with the Panorama survey, which is a good thing. But why collect more data on student and family belonging when the district has delayed meaningful changes in practice — notably on bias incident response — until after the director of DEIB is hired?

Survey and interview data from the Mount Greylock Listening and Learning Project inspired district and School Committee leaders to create the director of DEIB position in the first place.

If current staff have the capacity for “building better structures” for DEIB work, as the superintendent suggested March 9, why aren't they doing so already? District leaders claim to care about DEIB work without committing the time and resources required for meaningful change.

Asking families to pay more in property taxes for a reduced commitment to DEIB is the wrong strategy. Let’s get uncomfortable and put our money where our mouth is — even if it means paying slightly more than some of our neighbors would prefer.

The School Committee should do three things right away:

1. Maintain funding for the director of DEIB in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget.

2. Hire the director of DEIB before any new non-teaching roles.

3. Engage an outside search firm to lead the national search.

Matt Smith, Williamstown

The writer is a Mount Greylock Regional School District parent, a licensed educator and a leadership team member of the school district's Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Parent and Caregiver Action Network.

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