Lanesborough and Williamstown Principals Marty McEvoy and Joelle Brookner both urged the committee to hire Grady rather than post the superintendent position.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Transition Committee on Tuesday discussed whether it wants to offer the district's interim superintendent the job on a permanent basis or conduct a search for the first permanent leader of the newly expanded district.
All seven members of the committee, composed of members of the elected school committees at Mount Greylock, Lanesborough Elementary and Williamstown Elementary, said they were thankful to interim Superintendent Kimberley Grady for stepping up from her assistant superintendent position in fall 2016 after the abrupt departure of Tri-District Superintendent Douglas Dias.
But several members said it might be wise to follow a process before making what might be the most significant decision of the committee designed to lead the district until November's election of a brand-new school committee.
"Kim knows I am incredibly grateful for the work that's been done," Carolyn Greene said. "I think it's important to follow process, and the process we've talked about since the whole regional issue came up again is we need to be able to attract and retain qualified personnel. … This is not about the person. It's about the process.
"If we go through the process, I'd expect Kim to be the standout candidate. But then we could all say we've done our due diligence, and Kim has come out as the strongest candidate. We can put out a search that says, 'We have a strong internal candidate,' and open it up to see if there's interest."
The tone for the conversation was set when P.J. Pannesco, one of two members of the LES Committee not serving on the Transition Committee and a 40-year employee of Mount Greylock, encouraged the panel during its public comment period to retain Grady and not make her apply for the job she has been doing for more than a year.
"I think it's clear to everyone, she grabbed the wheel when the ship was foundering a couple of summers ago," Pannesco said. "She took us through the building process. She's taken us through something people thought would never happen -- a K-12 region.
"She's capable. She's smart. She's worked hard to forge associations with selectmen, finance committee people, school people in both communities, town managers. I think that other people in our communities believe there are school systems all over Berkshire County, maybe the whole state, who would give anything to have a person of her caliber."
Pannesco soon was followed at the microphone by the principals of the district's two elementary schools.
"I, too, am a process guy, but I have to say: How much more can this woman do than she's done?" LES Principal Marty McEvoy said. "You can go through the [hiring] process, but I feel Kim will rise to the top of any pool of candidates because she's that good.
"She's been doing an audition here for however many months. You can hire someone after a lengthy process, and you still won't really know what you're getting. With her, you know what you're getting."
WES Principal Joelle Brookner told the committee she spoke with Mount Greylock Principal Mary MacDonald, who was home with the flu, and that the middle-high school principal would echo the thoughts expressed by her and McEvoy if MacDonald was able to attend the meeting.
Brookner reminded the panel that all three building heads encouraged the Tri-District school committees to appoint Grady to fill the void left by Dias' departure.
"I think what we've witnessed since we've had this interim superintendent has been like an on-the-job interview," Brookner said.
"There's always that 'grass is greener on the other side of the fence' feeling, but I don't buy it. Our grass is really green at the moment. … I would strongly encourage you to consider appointing Kim as superintendent."
Transition Committee member Al Terranova came down on the side of doing a formal hiring process. After borrowing a line from "The Godfather," and noting, "It's not personal. It's business," Terranova said that a superintendent search committee is a way to bring voices outside the Transition Committee into the process.
"It gets everyone involved because they're on a search committee," Terranova said. "That's why it's important we do that rather than just seven people voting. It sets a good precedent for the region.
"We don't have to fly people in from San Diego [to interview], but I think we should have a search committee with business people, community people, educators."
Regina DiLego, the LES Committee rep on the Transition Committee, noted that the Tri-District's most recent candidate search yielded a disappointing pool of applicants.
"The process also can get in the way of allowing us to choose the best candidate," DiLego said. "That has happened in the past."
Transition Committee member Chris Dodig said either a search including Grady as a candidate or a decision to give her the job without a formal interview process would be "appropriate." Steven Miller praised Grady's work and pointed out that during her tenure as interim superintendent, she also at times served as the district's director of pupil personnel services and business manager when those positions were open.
Chairman Joe Bergeron was effusive in his praise of Grady and suggested that the committee members weigh the pros and cons of forgoing the hiring process in anticipation of making a decision at a meeting later in January [the committee does have a meeting on Jan. 8, but the superintendent search will not be on the schedule].
He also encouraged members of both member towns and district staff to provide feedback to the committee, either by speaking with individual members or by addressing comments to him at email@example.com.
"I hope at the next meeting where we discuss this, we can try to come to some kind of conclusion," Bergeron said. "In some ways, this is our most important job, so I want us to reflect on our two options."
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