Interim Lenox schools chief appointed superintendent through June 2017

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LENOX >> Interim Superintendent Timothy Lee is no longer an "interim."

Following an outpouring of accolades for Lee's performance, the School Committee on Monday night voted unanimously to appoint him as superintendent through June 2017.

Lee, who had been principal at Morris Elementary School, took over the top post last July following the retirement of Edward W. Costa II.

"We have the opportunity to offer a contract extension for two more years," School Committee Chairman Don W. Fitzgerald said, noting that the district needs forceful leadership while discussions on potential collaboration continue with the Lee school board and others in southern Berkshire districts.

He described the longer-term appointment as in harmony with efforts to forge closer ties with its neighboring town's district.

"This is 100 percent in the direction of what we're trying to do," Fitzgerald said. "The only way to move this forward is to have a strong leader. I don't think this eliminates the district's ability to do anything, I think it actually enhances it."

Vice Chairwoman Veronica Fenton said Lee "has not only done a great job" but has instilled confidence among staff, students and the community.

"It helps that we don't have to worry on any given day how our district is going," she said. "I want to commend Tim and thank him for his hard work, his diligence and his engagement with the students. Things are going quite well."

"You're a breath of fresh air, Tim," said School Committee member Francie Sorrentino. "My blood pressure has decreased and I appreciate that. Thank you for all you're doing, you hit the ground running."

Committee member Jo Anne Magee declared that "the one thing, Tim, you do so well is communications and relationships with others, and that's one of the basic building blocks of getting the job done. I really appreciate your skill in that area."

Citing Superintendent Lee's "commitment to high standards," member Robert Vaughan endorsed the relationship he has developed with Interim Superintendent Al Skrocki in the Lee district. The school committees in both towns voted last week to begin collaborating on professional development, curriculum coordination, and purchasing of textbooks as well as other materials.

"We have to reflect on how lucky we are to have had Tim ready to step in," said committee member Neal Maxymillian. "It's a sea of change that went on and rather than any feeling of chaos or increased uncertainty, when Tim is in the room, he's a calming influence, a real rock in a period when we've had a lot of change and unrest."

Lee's recent practice of including a Spanish translation on automated phone announcements to the public came in for praise from committee member Michael Moran and others. "For a district that lacks sometimes in diversity, it's really important to do that," Moran said. Lee began his career as a Spanish teacher.

"I think he's done an exemplary job," Fitzgerald said. "I'd say it's extremely proficient and I'm very happy with the outcome we have to date."

"Personally, I believe we dumped a lot of things on Tim," he said. "As an interim, we expected him to do everything that a very seasoned person who has been here for many years would do."

Fitzgerald cited "effective staff management, coordination of curriculum in the elementary school with the middle and high school, and strategic planning to keep everything moving faster than it had before."

Although terms of Lee's extended contract were not discussed at the School Committee meeting, the superintendent told the Eagle on Tuesday that he expects no change and that his salary will remain at $115,000 per year.

Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.


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