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School Committee votes 6 - 1 to approve O'Shea as superintendent

Date: 6/29/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM The School Committee wasted no time at their June 23 meeting - the first item on their agenda was the vote to approve a new superintendent.

The committee voted 6 -- 1 for M. Martin O'Shea, the current principal of Minnechaug Regional High School.

"We're setting a course for a new leadership direction," School Committee Chair Peter Salerno said. "For eight years we've been blessed with the leadership of Dr. G [Superintendent Paul Gagliarducci], and it's a daunting task to replace him. We can't replace him. That's why we're going to choose a candidate to forge a new form of leadership."

School Committee members Salerno, Scott Chapman, William Bickley Jr., Marianne Desmond, Lisa Morace and Gilles Turcotte voted in favor of O'Shea; D. John McCarthy voted for Dr. Steven Schafheimer, the candidate from Rochester, N.Y.

"I thought both candidates were very qualified," McCarthy told Reminder Publications. "I thought Dr. Schafheimer's record on technology was just a little bit better. Technology is a focus of mine. He had a little edge, and he was a little older and more experienced, especially when it came to implementing technology changes in the schools.

"It was a very difficult decision," he continued, "but I think Marty will be a very good superintendent. It was a no-lose situation."

Salerno, chair of the committee, said he focused on leadership qualities and knowledge of the district when it came to his vote, and he thought "Marty was extraordinary in that regard."

All seven members of the School Committee voted to move forward with contract negotiations for the superintendency with O'Shea, with a goal of having them completed by Aug. 1. Until then, Assistant Superintendent Donna Scanlon will be serving as the Interim Superintendent. Gagliarducci retires June 30.

"We all as a group [the School Committee] will stand behind him [O'Shea]," Salerno said.

"We are thrilled and excited Mr. O'Shea will be our new superintendent," Chapman said. "We believe he's a true leader and will continue to bring our district into the future."

Chapman was chair of the superintendent search committee. He called O'Shea to let him know he'd been selected after the School Committee's vote.

O'Shea has spent the last 20 years working in education, first as a teacher at Cathedral High School, then as a department chair and curriculum coordinator at Longmeadow High School before becoming that school's assistant principal, then as Minnechaug's principal beginning in 2005.

He already holds bachelor's and master's degrees; he'll begin work on his doctorate this summer through Northeastern University.

The position of superintendent for the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District was advertised during a national search with a salary of $135,000 to $155,000.

The School Committee approved of a $12,000 nationwide search with the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. Seventeen applied for the position, and 10 were interviewed. The search committee chose three from that pool, and one of those three withdrew.

"We had two very qualified individuals," Salerno commented. "This was a very difficult decision for the School Committee."

O'Shea could not be reached by press time for comment.