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Springfield's superintendent finalists to meet next with public, school committee

Springfield school department on Main Street.
Elizabeth Román
Springfield school department on Main Street.

After a rocky start in the search for a new superintendent of Springfield Public Schools, the pressure is on to bring three finalists to the city.

Outgoing district leader Daniel Warwick is retiring at the close of the school year.

On Monday a subset of the city's school committee met, including Mayor Domenic Sarno. The group agreed the candidates will be invited to meet the public at a community forum next week, followed by formal interviews.

The finalists were announced earlier this month at a Springfield School Committee meeting.

Sonia Dinnall and Kimberly Wells are both top administrators in the Springfield Public Schools. Rene Sanchez is Superintendent of Schools in Vermont's Champlain Valley School District.

At Monday's meeting, attorney Mary Jo Kennedy, who was hired by the city to oversee the search, summed up the proposed plan for next week, starting with finalists visiting several schools on Wednesday, May 29th.

"The candidates will all be given the opportunity to visit," Kennedy said. "We're going to work with the superintendent [Daniel Warwick] to figure out the agenda of the locations and staggering the three candidates. If all three, I assume, do that, then we'll work with the superintendent to get people to escort each candidate around."

Later in the day at Van Sickle Academy, the finalists will participate in a community meeting from 5:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. Each speaker will be given about an hour to answer questions from the public.

The facilitator will be Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.

It's been about more than a decade since the city conducted a superintendent search. Koocher joined school committee members for part of Monday's meeting, answering questions about the interviewing and hiring processes.

On May 30th, the finalists will be interviewed by school committee members, also at the Van Sickle Academy. The interviews will be open to the public, but no questions will be taken from the community.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."

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