Follansbee announces retirement as Easthampton school superintendent


Published: 10/23/2017 10:14:40 PM

EASTHAMPTON — After 26 years working in Easthampton schools, Superintendent Nancy Follansbee will retire at the end of the school year, in June 2018.

In response to Gazette inquiries, Follansbee sent a one-sentence reply saying she would announce her retirement on Tuesday. The School Committee is set to start discussing its search for a new leader at its meeting Tuesday night.

Over the past year, Follansbee has had a full desk.

She has tackled racism and hate allegations at the city’s high school that drew a civil rights investigation by the state attorney general’s office, as well as her own investigation. She has initiated a plan to transform the school’s climate, including anti-bias training for students and teachers.

She also has worked to obtain funding for a new school. Massachusetts State Building Authority will fund about half of the construction of a new pre-K-8 school, consolidating the city’s three century-old elementary schools and the aging middle school. The project will be put before the voters next spring.

Follansbee joined the district in 1991 and over the years held various positions, including reading specialist, reading recovery teacher, literacy coordinator, Title I director and grants manager. From 2006-10, Follansbee was the district’s director of curriculum. Prior to Easthampton, Follansbee worked in New York for six years as a teacher in grades 4 through 6.

She became Easthampton’s superintendent in 2010. The original period of her current contract was July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2016. The School Committee voted in October 2015 to offer a one-year rollover. The committee voted to extend the contract for another year in June 2016, as well as increase Follansbee’s salary by 2.5 percent.

Her salary is $133,687 and her contract ends June 30, 2018.

“I think that Nancy’s legacy will be a focus on curriculum and curriculum development,” School Committee member Peter Gunn said, adding that Follansbee worked to raise the district’s curriculum level.

Gunn, who has served on the School Committee since 2007, said he remembers the search that led to hiring Follansbee.

Former superintendent Deborah Charter announced her retirement in 2009, and the search process for a new superintendent took about five months.

“I think it’s great to get things going as fast as we can,” Gunn said. He said it’s important to advertise promptly. He said he has a feeling there are people in the Pioneer Valley who will be curious about the position, but that it’s important to look at a number of candidates for the role.

“I hope we cast a wide net,” he said.

School Committee member Marissa Carrere said she’s looking for someone who is excited, skilled and invested in the transformation of Easthampton schools as well as someone who understands diversity and equity.

The first step is forming a search committee. Carrere said she hopes it’s filled with a variety of stakeholders such as parents, students and teachers.

With only two School Committee members running for re-election, there will be many newcomers on the six-seat committee weighing in on who should be the next superintendent.

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at

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