South Hadley School Committee pushes superintendent decision to 2021

  • South Hadley interim Superintendent Diana Bonneville CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/13/2020 4:35:03 PM
Modified: 1/13/2020 4:34:17 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Following a vote by the School Committee, interim Superintendent Diana Bonneville will remain in her role until July 2021.

Bonneville, the former principal of South Hadley High School, was originally slated to fill the interim superintendent position until June. Now, she will remain in this role for just over a year beyond the original timeline, when the district appoints a permanent superintendent.

The committee plans to publish a job posting in September. 

School Committee members voted in the updated timeline at a meeting earlier this month, where vice chairwoman Allison Schlachter said that the superintendent search committee has concerns that the original timeline was rushed.  Schlachter is also chairwoman of the search committee.

“Something that it leaves out is getting information and getting data from our community,” she said. “Our parents, our students, our community members who are not directly involved with schools … it leaves, as it stands, everyone out of the conversation.”

The committee decided unanimously to ask the School Committee for more time, Schlachter said, adding that the search committee intends to use this time to send out a community survey and integrate this feedback into the interview process.

“I think we’re in a position where we’re really finding ourselves and we’re redefining who we are,” Schlachter said, “and I’d like to do that together.”

The search for a new superintendent began when former superintendent, Nick Young, abruptly resigned from his post in late November. Young’s last day in the position was Dec. 2, although he will remain on the district’s payroll until March 5 due to unused vacation days.

The district is also facing a $950,000 funding gap in the current fiscal year, which Young has said he expects to worsen in the future.

School Committee member Christine Phillips, who also sits on the superintendent search committee, said that the longer timeline will give the search committee more time to put focus groups together and create an updated job description, as well as allow the committee to post the job at a time where there may be the most qualified candidates available.

The Committee also includes South Hadley Education Association President Scott Beaulieu, Select Board Chairwoman Andrea Miles, two teachers, three parents, two administrators, and two students.

As interim superintendent, Bonneville is “giving us a lot of confidence that things are moving forward,” Phillips said. 

Bonneville also approved of the longer timeline.

“It’s really a time of reflection now,” she said at the meeting. “The community’s gone through a lot of change over the past 10 years, and I think the more time we spend being reflective of the direction we want to go, the better the applicant pool will be.”

Bonneville previously told the Gazette that she is “optimistic that I will apply for the permanent position” as long-term superintendent, but would first “need to gauge my success at overcoming budgetary obstacles in the next few months.”

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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