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South Hadley names Bonneville interim schools chief

  • Former South Hadley High School principal Diana Bonneville will take over the superintendent’s job for the rest of the school year following action by the School Committee. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/18/2019 11:33:04 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Former high school principal Diana Bonneville will serve as interim superintendent throughout the remainder of the school year as the district navigates an abrupt leadership change and budget shortfall.

Earlier this month, the School Committee unanimously selected Bonneville as the district’s acting superintendent following the sudden retirement of former Superintendent Nicholas Young, who announced on Nov. 26 that he would leave the job on Dec. 2. Young will remain on the district’s payroll on unused vacation days through March 5.

Bonneville was appointed acting superintendent from Dec. 2 to Jan. 13 to carry out regular superintendent responsibilities while a longer-term interim was chosen. On Monday, the School Committee chose Bonneville to continue leading the school district in this interim role.

School Committee Vice Chairwoman Allison Schlachter made a motion to appoint Bonneville interim superintendent and shift its focus from the interim search to finding a long-term superintendent, stating that Bonneville “is showing the committee that she is an excellent leader.”

“She has stepped into this role at a very difficult time for this district,” Schlachter said, “both from a macro perspective of major budgetary concerns and a micro perspective of being in a situation to meet the individual needs of each school following a sudden change in leadership.”

The district is experiencing a $950,000 shortfall this year. Voters appropriated $66,438 at a November special Town Meeting to partially mitigate the shortfall. Young had previously said he expected the budget gap to worsen in the future.

Schlachter’s motion passed 3-1, with committee member Charles Miles casting the only dissenting vote.

Miles said that multiple potential candidates had stepped forward, including in-district candidates, and that he thought the committee should interview these candidates before appointing an interim.

“It feels to me like a little bit too closed of a process to just step forward and appoint someone without doing that,” Miles said.

Other School Committee members said that appointing Bonneville was appropriate due to her performance so far. Chairman Kyle Belanger said her leadership has shown “an actual active movement forward,” and because it allows the committee to focus on completing its superintendent search.

“I just feel like it would be so much more efficient to just shift our attention onto the bigger picture,” Schlachter said.

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

Bonneville has a doctoral degree in educational research, policy and administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is superintendent-certified. She was the principal of South Hadley High School from 2012 until her appointment as acting superintendent.

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


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