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Hadley extends interim school superintendent’s contract

  • CAROL LOLLIS<br/>Donna Moyer, interim superintendent in Hadley.
  • CAROL LOLLIS<br/>Donna Moyer, interim superintendent in Hadley.

The extension will keep her in Hadley through June 2014. Moyer, who assumed leadership of the Hadley schools in July, will be paid an annual salary of $105,400.

The committee voted 4-1 in favor of the extension during an executive session Thursday. Thomas Waskiewicz voted against the move.

Robie Grant, School Committee chairwoman, said the move would provide administrative continuity in the short-term while affording the district more time to find a permanent superintendent.

“I think the majority of us felt it made sense to ask her to stay,” Grant said.

The committee will now turn its focus to forming a superintendent search committee, she said. A focus group of community residents will be formed in the spring to help identify what Hadley wants in a new superintendent, Grant said.

The goal, she added, is to be ready to start the process early next fall.

A veteran superintendent, Moyer took over leadership of the district from Nicholas D. Young, who left Hadley to take the superintendent position in South Hadley in June.

Moyer said she is looking forward to staying in Hadley another year.

“It makes sense for me personally because while I’m not ready for a typical superintendent three-to-five year contract, I’m not ready to give up working,” she said in an interview Monday.

“Clearly Hadley has had great successes, but it also has challenges,” Moyer said. “It has been a great four months. I have found the staff, community and school community willing to consider changes and to be good people to work with.”

Hadley, like many small town school districts, faces the task of maintaining programs at a time when enrollment and outside funding is decreasing.

“If Hadley and other small school districts are going to retain their individuality and breadth of programming we have to look at creative partnerships,” Moyer said.

Waskiewicz, the School Committee member who voted against extending Moyer’s contract, said Monday that he is happy with the job Moyer is doing, but feels the committee should press ahead to fill the position permanently.

“I want to build stability in the system. I am looking for a permanent long-term position in terms of our superintendent,” Waskiewicz said.

“We just started the search, why would you delay it,” he said. “What changed?”

Grant said the idea of extending Moyer’s contract was suggested last month by Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.

Many schools of education run two-year superintendent training programs, he told the board. That cycle is scheduled to culminate this spring, meaning there will be a larger pool of candidates to chose from.

“He said, ‘You are in a great spot. You have a great interim, why don’t you wait,’ ” Grant said.

The idea initially did not gain much traction with committee members, she said, but emerged as the committee’s preferred option as they contemplated hiring a search firm during a meeting Oct. 2.

Moyer’s experience was a factor in the decision, she said. The Hadley School District has some key issues on the table, including a proposal to merge business operations with the Hatfield School District, she said, that could benefit from Moyer’s involvement.

“For us, we are looking at new configurations, like with Hatfield for example, so to have someone with her breadth and depth of experience will help guide us. It was obvious to the four of us who voted for her that this was a real opportunity,” Grant said.

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