As I'm sure everyone now knows, the superintendent search process is delayed due to weather. I'm attaching the most recent Gazette article on the search, which provides more information on the revised schedule (http://gazettenet.com/2011/01/18/wrinkles-emerge-amherst-schools-chief-search). I'm also attaching the letter from the Leverett Select Board which appeared in today's paper (http://gazettenet.com/2011/01/18/leverett-board-assails-superintendent-search).
I will briefly note a few things:
First, I am puzzled that the Leverett Select Board's concern about a lack of community involvement in the process leads them to favor absolutely no community involvement and the permanent appointment of the current interim superintendent (who received no community input at the time of her appointment).
Second, I am puzzled that the Leverett Select Board letter only notes the travel schedule of an Amherst member led to a rushed search, when in reality a Shutesbury member had already planned to be away, and therefore the Amherst member made plans (assuming that the search wouldn't be conducted that week). I wish they had taken the time to ask Rick about the reasoning for the timing of the selection prior to making such an assumption.
Third, I'm puzzled that the Leverett Select Board expresses concern that the School Committee did not eliminate an Amherst's representative's blog, when the search consultants did not in fact request the elimination of any blog (mine, Larry's, Rick's, or the community supported blog). In addition, obviously the School Committee has no power over the first amendment right to free expression by members on the committee or in the community.
Fourth, I'm puzzled that the Leverett Select Board seems to feel the search committee representative from Leverett wasn't qualified to share her views on the superintendent search unless she was selected by the Leverett School Committee. There were three applicants from Leverett who applied to serve on the committee, and we chose the one who had by far the most experience with our regional schools (which I would think would make her the most qualified to participate). There was absolutely no request at any time that the Leverett and Shutesbury School Committees would choose their own representatives; the only request was that residents of both towns were chosen to participate, and this request was agreed to unanimously by the Regional School Committee.
Finally, although I understand that the Leverett Select Board has expressed their strong preference for the current interim (a request made as early as last June at the 4 Towns Meeting), the Regional School Committee chose to undertake a full and open search to find the best leader for our district. A search committee has identified three candidates, and I believe we as a community owe it to all three of these finalists to keep an open mind about who is the best fit, especially as we learn more about the backgrounds and experiences of the two outside candidates who are less familiar to our community. I again urge parents and community members to come meet Dr. Bayless and Dr. Kohn this week, and to share their views with the school committee by filling out feedback forms at each event and/or by emailing the entire School Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org). This is a very important decision, and I hope we can all focus on making a decision that is focused on what is best for kids and the future of our schools.
My Goal in Blogging
I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.