New Panel Preps for Pittsfield Superintendent Interviews

By Joe DurwinPittsfield Correspondent
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The School Committee has created an ad hoc panel to screen another round of interviews to fill the superintendent's post.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A newly convened school subcommittee will begin the process of screening candidates for the position of superintendent of schools in what has been on ongoing quest to secure a replacement for Howard "Jake" Eberwein.

Eberwein resigned last year and was later named dean of graduate and continuing education at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

The group, which includes local educators as well as community leaders and one parent representative, met Thursday at the Mercer Administration Building to go over the leadership profile drafted for this position and begin crafting the questions that will be used in interviewing candidates this month.

The committee is part of the third search for a superintendent in less than a year, following Eberwein's announcement last January that he would leave at the end of the school year. The School Committee hopes that the offer of a raised salary offer of $150,000 to $170,000 (a $25,000 to $45,000 increase) and utilization of a professional consultant service will lead to a successful outcome this time around.

Future Management Systems was hired in September to aid in the search at a cost of $22,000, one of three bids received.

School Committee member Kathleen Amuso was elected to chair the ad hoc screening committee, which also includes Stearns Elementary School Principal Jean Bednarski, teacher Joseph Maffucio, United Educators of Pittsfield member and teacher Gina Gazzaniga, Central Office staff member Stephanie Case, parent Kellie Meisl, Berkshire Chamber of Commerce President Michael Supranowicz, former Superintendent William Travis and community leader Van Shields, director of the Berkshire Museum

Most of the committee's work will be done outside of the public view, with all interviews conducted in executive session until the field is narrowed to three finalists. Only when these finalists are chosen will the candidates names become public.

William Garr of Future Management Systems urged the committee to "treat the entire process with absolute and complete confidentiality," pointing out that a lack of confidentiality has resulted in the loss of good candidates in some superintendent searches.

"If you're looking at candidates on your laptop, don't do it in Starbucks," stressed Garr, extolling them to avoid any scenario in which such information could be "leaked."

Garr said one of the key expectations that had been laid out by members of the public surveyed was an understanding of a diverse student population and staff.  

"The ability to work with diversity loomed very large in almost all of the focus groups," said Garr, among other key competencies outlined.  The consultant encouraged the committee to look closely at these when evaluating candidate resumes.

The committee will meet again next week to finalize its interview process and begin considering more than two dozen candidates who've applied, including current superintendents, assistant superintendents, and principals who responded to expanded advertising of the opening this time around.

Garr described the superintendent candidates they'd attracted as "ones who are not dissatisfied with their jobs" but may be looking for a more urban district, more money, or a challenge.

A previous superintendent screening committee last Spring produced only one finalist candidate, Reza Namin, out of four interviewed; six other candidates removed their application prior to screening. The regular School Committee voted unanimously not to offer the job to the sole finalist, though Namin indicated he had already called to remove his name from consideration following his interview with them.

Currently, the position is being filled on a one year interim basis by Gordon Noseworthy, a retired superintendent who was chosen in June following the failure of the first superintendent search.

Tags: interview,   search committee,   superintendent,   

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