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The School Committee delayed a vote on the location of the preschool program while parents petition to keep some preschool education in Cheshire.

Plunkett Principal Appointed To Interim Post

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Kristen Gordon has superintendent certification and has been C.T. Plunkett Elementary School's principal since 2003.
ADAMS, Mass. — C.T. Plunkett Principal Kristen Gordon will spend her next few months shadowing the superintendent so she can take over in October.

Gordon was appointed on Monday as a temporary assistant to the superintendent with the intention of learning the ropes from current Superintendent Alfred Skrocki. Upon Skrocki's retirement in October, she is expected to take over the position until a permanent superintendent is found.

The principal of nearly 10 years and former Plunkett student could not hold back her excitement Monday night, profusely thanking the committee and saying she wouldn't be getting to sleep that night. The committee members volleyed the thank you back saying they were happy that somebody in the district would be willing to "step up" and take the position on.

"I think we're very fortunate to have somebody in the district who is certified and willing to step up," Committee member Gloria Lewis said.

Gordon, who committee members said is qualified for the position, is expected to be later appointed as interim superintendent and will be a candidate for the permanent post.

The committee has not had enough time to do a full search for Skrocki's permanent replacement and, last week, voted to appoint an interim until a full search is completed. Unsure of how to proceed, the committee initially did an internal search for the permanent position, for which Gordon was one of two respondents. She then became the primary choice for the interim when the committee felt it needed a larger candidate pool for a replacement.

"It became quite clear that in the timeframe they were looking at it would be very difficult for us to complete a regular search and have a replacement by fall," Chairman Paul Butler said.

A consultant with the Massachusetts Association of School Committees said the search for a replacement in time for October would have to be shortened and would not likely return the best candidates. If Gordon did not accept the position, MASC would have helped find a retired superintendent to fill in.

Skrocki will develop a transition plan that will start shifting some of his work to Gordon to prepare her for October.

"I'd like to keep everything as intact as possible for the students as long as we can. When the interim position is taken over on the first, we'll address the need of an interim principal," Skrocki said.

In other business, the committee delayed taking a stand on the location of the preschool program. Skrocki previously proposed moving the program to Adams after the new Hoosac Valley High School construction but a group of parents opposed the measure.

Led by Michelle Francesconi, parents petitioned the school committee to keep some form of the program in Cheshire — citing fears the loss of the children would affect multiple aspects of the school.

Skrocki, however, defended his position saying because there is a greater number of students with special needs from Adams, it is no longer logical to keep the program in Cheshire. The school's "side-by-side" special education program requires an equal amount of special needs students and other pupils, meaning the school would have to transport nearly a dozen Adams students to Cheshire to run two programs.

Francesconi asked the committee to delay a vote until after student screenings in March, when parents can be asked which school they would prefer. Skrocki said he was not sure if delaying a decision until April was possible but said he would talk to teachers and staff to see how long they could delay.

If the decision is held until April, Francesconi hopes to have enough students choosing Cheshire that the district would figure out the logistics to keep a program there.

Tags: Adams-Cheshire,   preschool,   superintendent,   

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