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School Committee names Sapelli as superintendent

Date: 1/31/2012

Feb. 1, 2012

By Debbie Gardner

AGAWAM — The town has a new superintendent of schools, and it looked no further than its own School Department staff to find the ideal candidate.

On Dec. 19, 2011, during a special meeting of the School Committee, Interim Superintendent William Sapelli was selected to succeed Dr. Mary Czajkowski as superintendent.

“It was a unanimous vote by the five people present to make Mr. Sapelli the superintendent of schools,” Mayor Richard Cohen, who is also chair of the School Committee, told Reminder Publications. “He is well-versed in all aspects of our school system and has worked in various positions for our school system over the years. With his experience and knowledge of our school system, the committee believes Mr. Sapelli can make a seamless transition to being our permanent superintendent.”

Czajkowski left Agawam at the end of the 2010-11 school year to take the position of superintendent with Barnstable Public Schools on Cape Cod.

Cohen confirmed that Sapelli’s appointment was made official at the Jan. 24 School Committee meeting, following contract negotiations. Sapelli will receive a salary of $140,000 a year as superintendent.

Attorney Russ Dupree, general counsel for Agawam Public Schools, said the School Committee’s decision to forego a formal search for a new superintendent and instead promote from within is a common practice.

“There is no legal requirement to post a job,” Dupree said. “It happens fairly frequently where an interim [superintendent] is selected.”

He said the Gill-Montague Regional School District, for which he also serves as counsel, recently chose the same route to fill their superintendent of schools position.

Dupree added with the average cost of the search for a superintendent ranging from $10,000 to $20,000, promoting a well-qualified candidate from within often makes sense for a community.

“I don’t think it was about the money,” he said of Sapelli’s appointment. “I think they felt he was the best candidate.”

School Committee member Shelley Reed said she felt “Bill has done an excellent job as interim superintendent since Dr. Czajkowski’s departure. He worked closely with her and has worked in the school system for a long time, so I feel he knows it well.“

Reed added that Sapelli is “highly respected by his staff, administrators and members of the community,” and she looks forward to working with him.

Sapelli said he is “very excited” by the opportunity to take the reins as Agawam’s permanent superintendent of schools.

“It’s a district I’ve worked in for 34 years,” said Sapelli, who grew up in Agawam, attended its schools and has worked as a coach, teacher, assistant principal, principal and both assistant and interim superintendent in its system. “It’s a great school system, a great community and a great staff. I’m looking forward to working with the staff and the School Committee and keeping the district moving forward.”

He said with a number of state educational initiatives on the horizon — including the new common core curriculum requirements and evaluation tool for teachers, administrators and superintendents — his knowledge of both the teacher’s side and the administrator’s side of an issue would help the district to make smoother transitions.

“Whether its regulations or curriculum, you know both sides and can evaluate information from both positions,” Sapelli said. “[Teachers and administrators] know you are making decisions with all the information in hand, and that helps.”

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