Amherst Regional superintendent search begins with public input sessions

Amherst Regional High School.

Amherst Regional High School. STAFF FILE PHOTO

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 01-22-2024 10:43 AM

AMHERST — Amherst, Pelham, Shutesbury and Leverett residents are being invited to offer thoughts for the ongoing superintendent search for the Amherst-Pelham Regional, Amherst and Pelham district schools at six community input sessions, the first of which was held virtually Wednesday evening.

The Amherst-Pelham Regional and Union 26 school committees and McPherson & Jacobson, an executive search firm based in Omaha, Nebraska, are coordinating the process to identify a superintendent to succeed Michael Morris, who left the position at the end of August.

The first meeting, a general session at 7 p.m. Wednesday, can be accessed by going to http://tinyurl.com/yt8fb7px.

During the six sessions, those attending will be asked to respond to four topics, including offering thoughts about the good things about the community, the good things about the school district, the issues the incoming superintendent will have to address in the district, and the characteristics that will make a new superintendent successful.

McPherson & Jacobson will summarize the input from the sessions into a report that will go to a 20-member search committee, and to the Regional and Union 26 committees.

Amherst representative Jennifer Shiao, who has led the Subcommittee for the New Superintendent, told her colleagues at the Jan. 9 Regional School Committee meeting that there is significant interest to serve on the search committee, with 46 applicants as of that morning. The deadline to apply to be on the search committee was Monday.

Applicants to be on the search committee, including parents and guardians, staff students and community members, will be reviewed by the subcommittee this week, with a list of finalists to be presented at the regional committee’s Jan. 23 meeting.

The search committee will be charged with reviewing applicants to be superintendent, doing interviews and selecting finalists in March. Then, in the spring, finalists will likely do site visits, meet the community and be interviewed publicly, with the Regional and Union 26 committees deciding on who to select as the final candidate and to make a job offer so the person can start on July 1.

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The community input sessions will continue Jan. 22 at 4 p.m., with a Spanish language focus, and at 7 p.m. that day with a special education focus; Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. with a Black, Indigenous and people of color focus; and Jan. 25 at 7 p.m., with an LGBTQIA focus. All of these, like the initial session, are being held via Zoom.

The final session, on Jan. 27 at 10:30 a.m., will be in person at the library at the Amherst Regional Middle School.

For more information, go to arps.org/suptsearch for a schedule of the sessions. An online survey will also be launched near the end of January to gather additional input.