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Pittsfield Superintendent of Schools Jake McCandless, seen here in the Pittsfield High graduation video, is a finalist in the Mount Greylock Regional School District.

Pittsfield Superintendent a Finalist for Mount Greylock Post

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Pittsfield Schools Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless is one of three candidates for the vacant superintendent position in the Mount Greylock Regional School District.
The School Committee on Wednesday heard a report from the CEO of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, which vetted the 22 qualified candidates who submitted applications for the post and narrowed the field down to three finalists.
McCandless is joined by Portia S. Bonner and Mary Jane Rickson. All three will be interviewed over the next two days with the School Committee hoping to vote on a final decision and offer the position to its selection on Friday afternoon.
McCandless has helmed the Pittsfield Public Schools since 2013, when he was hired by the city school district after 11 years in the Lee Public Schools. He indicated last year that he was looking to "make a change" and had applied for several posts. 
Bonner currently also is a candidate for the superintendent of Martin County, Fla., public schools, according to the Treasure Coast Newspapers of Port St. Lucie, Fla. The paper identified Bonner as an education consultant who served as superintendent of the East Haven, Conn., Public Schools from 2013-17. The Marin County School Board has announced its plans to make its decision in September.
MASC's Liz Lafond said Bonner has more than 26 years of experience in public education, "including time spent as a teacher, department chair, assistant superintendent and as a superintendent in both Massachusetts and Connecticut."
The Greenfield Recorder reported in Februrary that Rickson was a finalist to be the superintendent in Orange. She most recently was interim superintendent of the Maynard Public Schools.
Rickson has 30 years of public education experience, "with seven of those years spent in a regional vocational district and experience as a school committee member, teacher, dean of students, assistant principal, special education administrator and superintendent."
McCandless has worked in public education for more than 27 years as a teacher, department chair, assistant principal and a superintendent for 15 years.
MASC CEO Glenn Koocher and Lafond, who were authorized by the School Committee to provide up to five finalists, were enthusiastic about the quality of the finalists they brought forward.
Lafond said MASC reviewed the applicant pool with an eye toward finding candidates who could hit the ground running as the district prepares to begin the school year in the middle of a global pandemic.
"We have vetted these candidates in the past over the years, and we are familiar with them," Koocher said. "If there are any specific questions people would like to pose, either individually to us or as a committee, we'd be happy to answer them.
"As with all candidates, there are elements of the background qualifications that may trigger questions and inquiries, and in some of those cases, it might be helpful for us to explain to you individually what those responses might be. … All three had highly credible references from reliable individuals, and I don't believe there's anything here that is going to be an impediment or an embarrassment to them or the School Committee."
School Committee member Carolyn Greene, a veteran of two prior superintendent searches in the district, said she appreciated the fact that all three of the finalists have prior experience as superintendents.
"They were all very excited, and they all spoke about the qualities of the district and the work that's been done," Lafond said. "It sounds to me, like a superintendent would do, they've already begun to do research."
Members of the public will have the opportunity to "meet" each of the candidates in a half-hour long virtual "meet and greet" session prior to his or her 75-minute interview with the School Committee.
Rickson's public meet and greet will be held Thursday from 3 to 3:30 p.m., with an interview with the committee to follow at 3:35.
• McCandless' meet and greet is Thursday from 5 to 5:30 p.m. with an interview at 5:35.
• Bonner's meet and greet is scheduled from 10:30 to 11 a.m. on Friday with an interview at 11:05.
School Committee Chair Christina Conry said she would send an email to the school community on Wednesday evening with the schedule. Links to the meet and greets and public interviews should be available on the district's website.

Tags: MGRSD,   search committee,   superintendent,   

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Williams-Led Research Team Awarded $1.6M Grant

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Ron Bassar, assistant professor of biology at Williams College, has been awarded a  grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). 
The three-year, $1.6 million dollar grant will support research aimed at understanding how temporal variation in ecological and evolutionary processes allow similar species to coexist. 
The project, titled "The Evolution of Fluctuation-dependent Species Coexistence," integrates theoretical and empirical research in four experimental communities of Trinidadian guppies and killifish on the Caribbean island of Trinidad.
"Understanding the processes that allow similar species to coexist has been a longstanding question in ecology and evolution," Bassar said. "It is important because diversity is a defining characteristic of natural ecosystems. Traditional explanations for coexistence have focused on static differences between species. This research will be among the first to explore the possibility that differences in species responses to intra-annual environmental variation can allow species to coexist."
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