Candidate Aaron Dean believes his knowledge of Adams-Cheshire and administrative experience makes him a good fit.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Adams Cheshire Regional School Committee plans to vote on a new superintendent at Monday's meeting.
The full committee on Thursday interviewed superintendent candidates Aaron Dean, principal of Pittsfield's Crosby Elementary School, and Beth Choquette, principal of Northampton's Bridge Street School. Both have previously worked for Adams-Cheshire. A third candidate withdrew his name.
"We had two excellent candidates tonight and this was a very informative session," School Committee member Michael Mucci said.
After the sudden departure of former Superintendent John Vosburgh at the end of July after a year on the job, the committee decided to plunge right into another superintendent search.
Dean was first to be interviewed and cited his experience in the district as a teacher and union president and in Pittsfield as an administrator. He also said his time on the McCann School Committee has left him with a wealth of information.
"I have really tried to build a broad set of experiences so coming to a position like this I can hit the ground running," Dean said. "I think it suits me well to make the move at this point."
He said he is already familiar with many of the strategies the district is using in its turnaround plan and would like to improve upon them with new data-driven systems he has implemented in Pittsfield. He said he would like to continue working with the leadership teams to help pinpoint goals and provide teachers with clear feedback to help them improve.
With his 10-plus years in the district, Dean said he really knows the school system and the communities. He said he still has connections in the district and would not have a hard time getting up to speed.
"I feel like over the years I was here, people saw me as a true professional and I think I built a lot of respect," he said. "I think I would be coming in with a lot of trust ... and I want to do what is best for our community."
He said transparency is important to him and believes everyone in the district should have a voice. He said he would implement structures to make sure there are open avenues of communication.
Dean said he has faced many of the same issues Adams-Cheshire currently faces in Pittsfield, such as dwindling resources and a student body with growing needs. He said he believes in using data to inform decisions and setting clear goals for the district.
Dean, who lives in Adams and is a graduate of Hoosac Valley High School, said he wants to come home and be engaged in his community. He said he hopes to bring stability to the district.
"I want to come home ... and I hate seeing the school system that I went through struggle," he said. "It is not fair to the community and it is not fair to the kids ... I will work tirelessly to make sure that we are successful."
Beth Choquette cites her success in turning around a Northampton school as something that would benefit Adams-Cheshire.
Choquette said she thought one of her strengths as an administrator was her passion for her students.
"I am very committed to the children that I serve every day ... the students that I serve are near and dear to my heart and I lead with that kind of love and passion," she said. "I try to see through them and how they are going to achieve in life."
Choquette said when she took the job in Northampton, Bridge Street School was a level three. She said her first move was to raise morale and rebuild the school community.
"I took the first year there to really make that the focus and it really changes a lot," she said. "It improved the academic performances of our kids ... as a building leader if I don't have the trust of the people in the district ... we are never going to get the academic achievement."
She said she would carry this strategy to Adams-Cheshire school district as well as extend it to both communities. She said when she was the principal in Stamford, Vt., she worked with six different communities and understands that communities have different needs and expectations for education.
Choquette said, like in many school districts, Adams-Cheshire has a high special-needs population and that she would like to reduce the population by developing an intervention support system that responds before children begin lagging behind.
She added that she would like to implement "out of the box" programming, add vocational programming, and work with local colleges to make the district more attractive to students. She said she would also like to promote the school better. With a child in the district, she said she knows there are a lot of great things going on in Adams-Cheshire
Choquette said she, too, would bring stability to a district that's been plagued with seemingly constant superintendent turnover.
"I am committed if you look at my track record, I am not a person who jumps around from job to job every year or two," she said. "I really like to see things through and with the high turnover of leadership these two towns deserve somebody who is willing to stay to see them through the hard things."
The School Committee has a meeting scheduled Monday during which Chairman Adam Emerson said the committee will make a decision.
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Cheshire Still Seeking Right Fiscal Equation For Elementary School
By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
The Selectmen have hoped to use the former school as a revenue generator.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — When the Cheshire Elementary School was closed two years ago, the only silver lining to be found was the potential revenue source it might provide to the town through leasing the space privately.
The Board of Selectmen are still working hard to figure out a formula that works.
Tuesday night's meeting was a good example as the board weighed the cost of temporary heating upgrades for the cafeteria versus rent the town receives from tenants. The upgrades would essentially serve one tenant that holds fitness classes in the west wing of the building. The school currently has three lessees: Youth Center Inc., the school district administration, and Berkshire Body.
"Electric heaters look to be the safest and most cost effective means to provide heating for the space," said Town Administrator Edmund St. John III. "We estimate the cost of the installation will be somewhere around $3,500."
When the Cheshire Elementary School was closed two years ago, the only silver lining to be found was the potential revenue source it might provide to the town through leasing the space privately.
The Board of Selectmen are still working hard to figure out a formula that works. click for more
The board engaged in an hour of discussion when resident Gary Trudeau raised the possibility that the members might have inadvertently violated the state law again when interviewing candidates for the operator position.
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Selectman Mark Biagini was unhappy he wasn't made aware that interviews for an operator at the Highway Department were happening earlier on Tuesday afternoon, prior to the regular meeting.
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Voters approved all three articles on the warrant at a special town meeting Tuesday night. All three votes were overwhelmingly in favor but not without some spirited back and forth between the packed community center and town officials. click for more