December 23, 2003 - Ghana RPCV Mark Piechota finalist for school superintendent

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Ghana RPCV Mark Piechota finalist for school superintendent

Ghana RPCV Mark Piechota finalist for school superintendent

Piechota finalist for job in Milton

By Linda Carman - December, 23 2003

WILLIAMSTOWN _ Mount Greylock Regional High School Superintendent Mark M. Piechota is one of three finalists for the position of school superintendent in the town of Milton, Piechota confirmed Monday.

The Milton School Committee will conduct its final interviews on Jan. 5 for the job, which would pay up to 130,000 — 35,000 more than Piechota makes at Mount Greylock. Milton has a far larger school district.

Piechota is completing his 10th year at Mount Greylock, a length of tenure that makes him the district’s longest serving superintendent. Nationally, the average tenure for a school superintendent is three years, he said.

It has been the subject of speculation whether Piechota might seek a post elsewhere after the Mount Greylock Educators Association, the teachers’ bargaining unit, gave him an overwhelming vote of no confidence in July.

When asked whether that capstone to a sometimes strained relationship prompted his decision, Piechota said simply, “No comment.”

He recently wrote the faculty as follows: “While I continue to work with you all to make this school year a positive one, and I join you in planning for a solid future for this school district, I want you to know that I am also investigating employment opportunities elsewhere.

“I am doing so because I am wondering whether it is time to leave Mount Greylock – questioning whether another district might provide new opportunities and challenges for me.”

In August, the School Committee voted to extend his contract for two years.

Mary Cobb, chairwoman of the Milton superintendent’s search committee, said Monday that her committee narrowed the field to three from 13 original applicants. The committee is using the Massachusetts Association of School Committees to conduct the search.

Piechota currently receives $95,000 at Mount Greylock. Milton enrolls 3,700 or 3,800 students in six schools: a high school, a middle school and four elementary schools. Mount Greylock’s enrollment is about 800, mostly from Williamstown and Lanesboro.

Milton schools have been given a “probationary” rating by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges for its facilities, on the basis of conforming to curriculum standards and community resources, Cobb said. She said steps are underway, and have nearly been completed, to remedy those concerns, however.

Primarily, Cobb said, Milton has undertaken an ambitious program of building and renovating schools. Milton’s annual school budget is about $26 million.

Piechota declined to speculate on how he might fit in with the Milton system.

“It is healthy for all people to seek to grow and develop,” he said. “In education, that is one of our aims, so we should model it in ourselves. I am committed to my own personal growth and development, and I am looking at this as a possible opportunity … As for being a finalist, there is no guarantee that the position will be offered, or that I will accept it offered.”

He added, “It is an honor to be selected as one of three finalists in an outstanding school district.”

The previous Milton superintendent, Mary Graffa O’Neil, served 10 years.

Piechota previously taught English in Brookline public schools, also in the suburbs of Boston, for six years before becoming an administrator. He was later principal of Reading Memorial High School and assistant superintendent in Ithaca, N.Y.

According to a story in the Quincy Patriot Ledger, the other finalists for the superintendent’s job are Magdalene P. Giffune, superintendent of Uxbridge public schools since 1997 and a former Foxboro superintendent, and Nancy Elizabeth Young, superintendent of Holliston Public Schools.

Piechota wrote in his resume that he helped the Mount Greylock district establish a $250,000 educational endowment and pass two Proposition 2 1/2 overrides benefiting the schools. He is slated to begin serving on the NEASC commission on public secondary schools next month.

A 1967 graduate of Williams College, Piechota holds masters and doctoral degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He taught English with the Peace Corps in Ghana for two years.

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