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School Committee Hopes to Have Interim Superintendent by Next Week

Four finalists interviewed Wednesday night.

Though no decisions were made after the Norton School Committee interviewed Steven Hiersche, Christopher Martes, Michael Malone and David Cressy Wednesday night, they plan to have one by Wednesday. The contract for current superintendent Dr. Patricia Ansay is up Aug. 28, so the Committee hopes to have an interim in place as soon as possible.

For the past three years Hiersche has been superintendent for Framingham Public Schools. He spent six years as superintendent in Plymouth and five more in Watertown. Previously he was a mathematics and computer science teacher, then principal at the middle and high school levels.

Hiersche has experience working on building projects and is familiar with Race to the Top, an education reform initiative. He also has experience bringing technology into the classroom more, something Norton is trying to accomplish.

“My work is aligned with what Norton has been working on for the last few years,” Hiersche said.

When asked what would come up in a Google search of his name, Hiersche noted an incident in which a Wilson Elementary School staff member pulled a tooth from an autistic child. He noted, however, that the teacher and aide were disciplined and the parent was satisfied with the action taken.

Christopher Martes retired last year as superintendent for Foxborough Public Schools. One strength that stood out to Norton School Committee members is that he spent three years in a building project similar to Norton High School’s.

“I went through three years of moving students, buildings and classrooms around,” he said.

He was criticized for making what was called a “secret deal” with the Foxborough School Committee concerning his contract. The Sun Chronicle reported that the school committee could not reveal far-reaching changes in Martes' contract for four months because there was not an executive session during that time to release the minutes of the closed session when those changes were voted.

“I would do it again, but I would make it more clear,” Martes said. “I try to be very reflective.”

Martes has a philosophy he goes by when it comes to his staff. “You have to get the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off. Then you have to get the right people in the right seats,” he said.

Michael Malone has spent 14 years as superintendent, most recently for Middleborough Public Schools in an interim capacity since June 2010. Malone, 62, retired from the Plainville school system after 12 years of service. He is a member of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Malone, a member of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, described himself as a lifelong learner with international experience. He also dealt with major school renovations and made student and staff safety a priority in the process. Another good quality that the School Committee found was that he served on a superintendent search committee, which could come in handy.

Being budget focused, Malone said he knows how to make tough decisions while not sacrificing education.

“I wouldn’t come in and change things. I would keep you on track,” he said.

David Cressy has spent 30 years as superintendent in various capacities, including the Gilbert School, Cheshire Public Schools and Killingly Public Schools. He was also a principal at Killingly Public Schools, assistant principal at RHAM Junior Senior High School, director of guidance and counseling at Milford AREA High School and a social studies teacher at Plainfield Public Schools. In the early stages of his career in education, Cressy quickly realized that counseling wasn’t the job for him.

“What I thought was my career path did not work for me,” he said. “I was putting Band-Aids on things. I quickly realized that my career was not in guidance counseling. I took courses leading to assistant principal and I was much more suited for that.”

Cressy has described the past few weeks as serendipitous. He had been planning to move to the area to be closer to family, and even made an offer on a house in Norton. One day he opened the newspaper and saw that Norton was seeking an interim superintendent.

“I thought, what a great way to get to know the community and have the community get to know me,” Cressy said.

Since Cressy is coming from Connecticut schools, some committee members are concerned that it will take him some time to get up to speed. They all agreed, however, that his experience, knowledge and articulation are great assets.

The committee will check references over the next few days and meet Wednesday to vote on an interim superintendent.

Trot Nixon June 14, 2012 at 10:29 AM
Stay away from Martes...the whole Foxboro secret contract deal tells me he's not an open transparent school chief. We already have a School Committee that goes with whatever Dr. Ansay wanted without debate and we don't need a someone like Martes who could ask for a pay raise whenever he wants. And why are we searching for an Interim chief? We had 3 months to find a permanant one and when negotions broke down we now have to go searching for an interim to make 110 g a year? Just go back to the original finalists to begin with....just don't get it.

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