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Committee appoints Sapelli interim superintendent

Date: 5/17/2011

May 18, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

AGAWAM — They joked about not accepting her resignation, but were unanimous in accepting her recommendation.

On May 10, the Agawam School Committee easily affirmed outgoing School Superintendent Dr. Mary Czajkowski's proposal that her colleague William Sapelli, currently the school system's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, be appointed interim superintendent for a period of one year following her departure on Aug. 24.

Czajkowski announced on March 24 that she had accepted the position as superintendent of the Barnstable Public Schools on Cape Cod.

"I think Mary has worked with him for the past nine years as a superintendent and assistant superintendent, respectively, and she certainly understands his knowledge and abilities and would not have made the recommendation to the School Committee if she felt he was not competent," Mayor Richard Cohen told Reminder Publications. "I think her opinion was very much appreciated by the School Committee and I think that certainly helped the unanimous vote."

Czajkowski said Sapelli would assume his duties as interim superintendent on Aug. 29, and would serve in that position until Aug. 29, 2012. She added that she would be using her remaining vacation time during the summer months and that Sapelli would also be filling in as acting superintendent during those absences.

"I would find no one more capable to take over the reins as superintendent," Czajkowski added.

Sapelli thanked Czajkowski and the School Committee for their support and confidence in his fitness for the position and the two colleagues exchanged a quick hug after the committee officially approved his appointment.

Czajkowski said her recommendation that an interim superintendent be appointed at this time was based both on the advice of School Committee Attorney Russell Dupree regarding the proper procedure for her resignation and the time frame between that and the start of the new school year.

Dupree had informed her in a letter that the elements of her resignation — her official letter to the School Committee and the appointment of an interim superintendent "must be conducted in open [meeting] sessions."

She also noted the length of time required by recent superintendent searches in surrounding communities, saying, "These searches began in January — there is not enough time [now] to have a person in place by the start of the school year."

She added that a typical search for a superintendent takes approximately "six to nine months" and should involve public input in the form of open interviews of candidates and possibly, focus groups.

School Committee member Linda Galarneau did pose the question of who would assume Sapelli's duties when he took over the role as interim superintendent.

"One of the things we have been discussing is to fill his position not with an assistant superintendent, but with a director of curriculum and instruction," Czajkowski said, noting that was the position she herself had filled 14 years ago.

She said the committee would need to approve the creation of this new job description and the job would then need to be posted. Under the proposed school budget's administration plan for fiscal year 2012, a curriculum director would not be hired until Sept. 1 to save money.

Czajkowski added that Sapelli would continue to fulfill his duties as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction until Aug. 29. She also stressed that, despite reading her official record of resignation into the May 5 meeting minutes, the committee could be assured she would "continue to work on the fiscal year 2012 school budget until passed by the City Council, and [that she would] work closely with my replacement [during the transition]."

Debbie Gardner can be reached by e-mail at

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