UPDATE: 5:45 PM. Well I can let my headline stand (unlike the Chicago Tribune) as Union 26 did, finally, confirm Maria Geryk as permanent Superintendent--but with one major caveat: it's only for one year (until June 30, 2012) and the evaluation of her performance is due in January, 2012. Irv Rhodes (Chair Amherst School Committee) changed his vote to break the 3-3 deadlock.
UPDATE: 4:15 PM okay, so like the Chicago Tribune in the famous Dewey/Truman Presidential race I was a tad too quick to hit the publish button with a Page One Headline. Union 26, made up of three Amherst School Committee members and the three Pelham school committee members, also had to approve the original vote to make any of the three candidates permanent Superintendent. That vote tied 3-3 with all the Amherst representative voting NO to Ms. Geryk by supporting Dr. John Bayless. We still have a horse race!
3:10 PM UPDATE:
Acting School Superintendent Maria Geryk, the local lady (and as a result the inside candidate) who made good, received the narrow nod with 6 out of 10 votes from the Regional School Committee charged with hiring a new permanent School Superintendent for the venerable Amherst School system, which also includes Leverett, Pelham and Shutesbury. Even though four out of five Amherst School Committee members voted against her. And Amherst makes up over 75% of the Region.
Rick Hood, Amherst School Committee, Regional Chair but not a committee member to Union 26
So while most of America in now comfortably curled up in front of the large screen flat panel watching all-to-far-in-advance coverage of the Super Bowl folks in Amherst are glued to cable access watching this School Committee meeting choosing the next School Superintendent for the Amherst Regional School system.
Discussion starts concerning the three candidates. Nobody seems to want to go first.
Rob Spence (Amherst School Committee): I favor by a slight margin Dr. Gerald Kohn and my second choice is Dr. John Bayless. Considering experience and background. I favor the strongest candidate with the best background. Either of them can move the schools forward. That's very important.
1: 15 PM Kristen Luschen: Doesn't seem to like Dr. Kohn (simply because he "turned around a district" as Amherst is not a district that needs turn around). Emails and calls were overwhelmingly in favor of Maria Geryk. She supports her "hands down."
Okay so now we have a tie. Eight to go.
1: 23 PM Kip Fronsh: All the candidates are good but there are profound differences. Attributes the "diversity" of womanhood to Maria Geryk (sounds like he's going to vote for her.)
It's been overwhelming the support for Maria Geryk. Her mother was a maid her father a mill worker. Twice she has stepped into the breech (to act as temporary Super). Conducted herself with class. Yep, he's voting for her.
Catherine Sanderson jumps in to mention she's getting text messages about ACTV not airing this live. And I'm switching back occasionally to Comments to see that it is indeed the case. Let's hope they fix it soon.
Debbie Gould: Instantly dismisses Dr. Kahn. Sounds like she's voting for Maria Geryk. Dr. Bayless was okay, but he's from California which would increase his "learning curve" for how things are done here in Massachusetts. 85% of the feedback she received favored Maria Geryk. Okay I've heard enough to call her vote. We're now at 3 for Geryk and 1 for Bayless.
Steve Rivkin (Amherst School Committee): Cites the schools objection to transparency "troubling," especially when comparing how much we spend for education per child vs. Northampton. Mentions declining enrollment and attributes it to academic performance of the schools even though the student teacher ratio is pretty small.
Rodriguez came in but could not navigate threw our dense system. Cites hostility towards Catherine Sanderson for her championing of evaluation and results. Says either Dr. Kohn or Dr. Bayless could make an improvement in our system. Seems to favor Kohn (but acknowledges some risk in supporting him). Bayless seems less creative but very solid otherwise. Sounds like anybody but Maria Geryk.
1:50 PM Catherine Sanderson: Cites drop of 99 students in Elementary schools and 30 in kindergarten. Families are choosing not to attend our schools. I hear the "passion" folks have for Maria Geryk. I appreciate the work she's done but, I have real concerns about her being able to handle the problems we currently face. Have not seen a budget from her yet for elementary schools or the region. Have not seen a sense of "urgency" on her part. She was appointed 11 months ago as acting superintendent only by a very divided vote and she has not even tried to "reach out" to those on the School Committee who did not support her. She's way more comfortable in dealing with her "supporters".
I hoped I could vote for Dr. Kohn but it would require "too much of a leap of faith." I feel quite comfortable taking the leap of faith with Dr. Bayless. Score another one for Dr. Bayless.
So far no surprises. The swing vote is going to come down to Rick Hood Regional Chair. And I bet he's going to go last. (Great for the ratings I guess)
2: 07 Ms. Weilerstein. I was disappointed that there were not more stronger candidates from Massachusetts. Striking how different individuals can have such polar differences in hearing the same presentation. This is a challenge. Immediately dismisses Dr. Kohn. Sounds like she likes Dr. Bayless but the fact that she's taking him up second means she's going to vote for Maria Geryk. That makes four votes for Geryk.
2:25 PM Nora Maroulis (Pelham School Committee). Geryk all the way. Now we're up to five. One more does it. Mr. Rhodes (Amherst School Committee) will go next.
2:30 PM Irv Rhodes: Appreciate all the feedback from citizens. In a popular election Maria Geryk would win by a landslide. I'm aware of that. Large majority wants to see her remain as Superintendent. Her performance at the interview was "astonishingly great". But then he uses the magic word "but". Sounds like he's not going to vote or her. As I said earlier, it will come down to Mr. Hood and if I had to guess he's going to put Maria Geryk over the top.
3:00 PM Yeah, Irv does talk a lot but he supports Bayless. Now it's up to Mr. Hood...
3:02 PM Dismisses Dr. Kohn instantly. Starts talking about Dr. Bayless second so that tells you where this is going. Describes some of Maria Geryk's weaknesses (math and special ed problems.) Cites her creation of an ombudsman for the schools. She has strong qualities. Do I want to work with her to address her weaknesses or just hire somebody else? I support Maria Geryk.
That's it folks.