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Costa stepping down as superintendent

Date: 11/2/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW -- Both Superintendent Edward Costa and the School Committee want to make one thing clear: the decision for Costa to step down as head administrator was a mutual agreement.

On the evening of Oct. 27, Costa made his resignation official with the School Committee, and on the morning after, he sent a letter to The Reminder thanking the community "for 11 wonderful, academic and productive years in education."

"The first thing I want to say is that this was a mutual decision between myself and the School Committee," Costa said in an interview with Reminder Publications. "The discussion [about me stepping down] started earlier this summer. There is no scandal behind this. It's just been a different kind of year ... It was not a rash decision."

Costa continued that he wanted out of his contract earlier this year, but didn't want to "leave the School Committee in the lurch" over the summer, trying to find a new superintendent. "I wanted to leave at the end of the last school year, but now the committee will have ample time to conduct a search."

The Oklahoma native said he will not be leaving East Longmeadow to take another job in the near future. He will continue as superintendent until Dec. 1 and will then take a leave of absence until June 30, 2010. He said the extended leave of absence is due to the accrual of "a lot of [personal] time saved up but not used."

He said he will continue to be available to the schools and the School Committee if he's needed, and he believes they've accepted his offer.

Why leave his position now? "You know when it's time," he replied. "The average tenure for a superintendent across the nation is three to four years. This is the time for me."

"I commend him for the job he did," Chair of the School Committee Bill Fonseca said of Costa. In a joint statement from the two parties, it was written that the committee "recognizes that Dr. Costa has provided 11 years of professional, productive and beneficial leadership to the School District and the Town of East Longmeadow."

The School Committee will be appointing an interim superintendent to take Costa's place until a permanent replacement can be found.

"We have no specific candidates in mind for the interim position," Fonseca said. "We have batted around a few names ... of both internal and external candidates."

He added that the committee will be working with the Massachusetts Association of School Committees to launch the search for a permanent replacement as soon as possible.

"We'll be looking for somebody with the same dynamic qualities of Dr. Costa someone who looks out for the kids, is dedicated to East Longmeadow and who upholds the high fiscal and academic standards we have now," Fonseca noted.

The School Committee will be discussing the interim position during executive session at its Nov. 2 meeting.

When asked if there was anything he regretted during his tenure, Costa answered, "Could I have done more on any issue? A superintendent makes hundreds of decisions a year. I regret that there were definitely times when I could have done more."

And, when asked about the things that really stood out for him, he replied establishing a gifted and talented program in the schools; creating Web sites for the schools 10 years ago, when the technology was still relatively new; and building a brand new middle school "that was cool."

"East Longmeadow education is a textbook example of what can be done when a community works together," he said.

A statement from the School Committee said it "expresses its appreciation to Dr. Costa for his ongoing efforts and wishes him the very best in his future professional and personal endeavors."

"I think I have a world of opportunity ahead of me," Costa said. "I haven't made any decisions about what's next yet."