LONGMEADOW, MA – The Longmeadow School Committee at its Dec. 18 meeting approved an amended RFP (request for proposal) for a vendor to conduct a search for a new superintendent.
On Nov. 14, the school committee voted 4-3 to not renew Superintendent of Schools M. Martin O’Shea’s contract. The controversial vote has caused tension on the school committee and resulted in a wave of public support for O’Shea, with others supporting the decision to not renew his contract.
As a response to the vote to not renew O’Shea’s contract, a Special Town Meeting has been called for Thursday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Longmeadow High School gymnasium, with one of the petition articles having to do with recalling elected officials.
Prior to approving the amended RFP on Dec. 18, School Committee member Bronwyn Monahan made a motion to table any discussions and actions related to the RFP due to the upcoming Special Town Meeting.
“I just wanted to say in light of the recently filed and accepted petitions that led to the scheduling of the upcoming special town meeting on January 17th, 2019, I’d like to make a motion that we table any discussions and actions related to the RFP until such time as our residents have an opportunity to formally weigh in relative to the two items on the special town meeting warrant that are directly related to the school committee,” Monahan said. “I feel like we should hold off until after that meeting. It’s a direct correlation to what we’re doing.”
After a contentious back and forth with School Committee member Armand Wray – who along with Monahan and Ryan Kelly were in favor of extending O’Shea – School Board Chair Beth Baron offered her thoughts.
“I’ve tried to be very respectful in my communications, but perhaps I haven’t been clear and concise. Maybe that’s where I’ve stumbled,” Baron said. “I need to remind people that over a month ago, this committee took a vote on November 14th. We did not vote to renew the superintendent’s contract. Now there are people who are disappointed in that, and there are people who approve of that. Regardless of how you feel about it, the committee made a decision.
“Regardless of what is going on in the community, we are tasked with an obligation here to move this district forward,” Baron continued. “As of July 1, we do not have a superintendent. We don’t have one. There’s been no contract to renew, we are not reconsidering that vote, people are not resigning, I don’t know how to make myself any clearer. Our job as a committee, and my job especially as chair, is to lead this committee and find an educational leader for this district. We have to move forward in that process.”
Baron added that she can’t predict how the public will vote, and the school committee can’t hold off on moving forward with the search for a new superintendent.
“Things will happen, and we will deal with things as they occur, but there’s no way for me to anticipate how our voting public would vote on something at a meeting like that,” Baron said.
Ultimately Monahan’s motion failed, and the school committee approved the amended RFP, which was scheduled to go out on Jan. 3. The RFP deadline was also set for 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 18, with a possible decision on the contract award being made on Feb. 4.
– By Jeff Hanouille/Longmeadow News