Kristen Smidy named Gateway Regional School District superintendent


Staff Writer
Published: 4/8/2021 8:05:47 PM

HUNTINGTON — The Gateway Regional District School Committee has named Kristen Smidy, the principal of Hampshire Regional High School, as the district’s next superintendent.

The committee voted 11-1 on Wednesday to offer Smidy the job. She was one of four finalists for the position chosen from among a pool of 22 applicants and eight semifinalists.

School Committee Chairwoman Michele Crane said that Smidy’s contract will be reviewed in an executive session next Wednesday with the aim of finalizing it that night.

“I am really proud of the district and the committee for running a really open-minded process,” Crane said.

Smidy, 36, has served as the principal at Hampshire Regional’s high school and middle school since 2013, starting in the district in 2011 as assistant principal in the middle school. She earlier taught middle school history in Springfield. She would replace Superintendent David Hopson, 65, who is retiring at the end of the school year after 18 years in the position.

“I’m so excited and I’m honored to consider making the transition,” Smidy said.

The three other finalists considered were Gateway Regional School District Pupil Services Director Kurt Garivaltis, Battenkill Valley (Arlington, Vermont) Supervisory Union Superintendent William Bazyk, and East Longmeadow High School Principal Gina Flanagan.

The Gateway district serves the towns of Blandford, Chester, Huntington, Middlefield, Montgomery and Russell.

The committee’s decision to hire Smidy comes one week after the Hampshire Regional School District named Diana Bonneville, who is interim superintendent of South Hadley public schools, as its next superintendent.

The four Gateway finalists were interviewed during the past two weeks and participated in multiple forums in the district.

In the discussion prior to the vote, Smidy received overwhelming support from a majority of the committee members.

“The person who came out on top for me was Kristen Smidy,” Crane said. “I felt really, really impressed with her.”

School Committee member Melissa Nazzaro also thought Smidy was the best candidate to lead the district forward.

“I felt that her experience in a neighboring regional school district really spoke to me,” Nazzarro said.

Declining enrollment was an issue rasised by School Committee member David Lubbers, who backed Smidy, saying she would bring “fresh ideas” as the district’s next superintendent.

“The kids are leaving because they’re not satisfied,” he said.

Other School Committee members said they were impressed with the feedback they received about Smidy.

“Absolutely everything that came to me about Kristen Smidy was glowing,” School Committee member Sarah Foley said. “Anybody that I talked to, formally, informally, part of this process, outside of this process could not have enough positive things to say about her.”

Jason Forgue cast the only dissenting vote, advocating for Garivaltis.

“In my opinion Kurt is our best option to go forward,” said Forgue, who said he thought Garivaltis could hit the ground running.

Smidy said that she had not been looking for another job when she applied for the Gateway position and has been happy in her job as principal of Hampshire Regional High School.

“They were looking for someone with my skill set,” Smidy said.

If Smidy takes the job after negotiations are concluded, she will assume the role of superintendent this summer, when Hopson steps down.

Bera Dunau can be reached at
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