Last night the Hopkinton School Committee held an hour-long discussion about who should be selected as superintendent for the next year, and at the end of the night Steven Hiersche was the only candidate to gain approval.
Although members made it clear this is not a commitment to hire Hiersche, they see him as a person that can lead the school system.
“I can see him doing this job but it’s very important to check references. The ability to form positive relationships is very important and that’s what we’re going to find out,” School Committee member Jean Bertschmann said. “I think his experience is very relevant to what we have on the table now in our district.”
Hiersche has experience in the region and has dealt with many of the problems that Hopkinton will be facing in the near future. Up until the end of June he served as the Superintendent of the Framingham Public School System where he worked with the same union representative that works in Hopkinton and was a liaison for The Education Collaborative (TEC) a group of schools that share resources, which Hopkinton is also a part of.
“It’s an important opportunity because it’s one year, but at the same time we don’t want to lose a year because we’re at a very important point right now,” Chairman Nancy Burdick said. “We need a minimal amount of distraction this year and we need everyone to focus on the tasks at hand.”
The newest School Committee member, Jon Graziano, was able to take the stress this situation put on the board and spin it so the interim superintendent can be beneficial to the district by providing an outside perspective.
“This is a really unique opportunity for us and for the community because we have the opportunity to higher someone that can help us with the short term goals but who, at the same time, can have an honest conversation about where we are as a school district without having to worry about a long term position,” he said.
Hiersche went through the interview process with two other candidates, Dennis Duquette and Mary Ellen Johnson, neither of whom were able to gain approval from the board.
Duquette’s interview on Monday focused on his success in Maine where he worked to bring three towns together in a school system. Board members said they felt unconvinced that his experience there would translate to what the town of Hopkinton needs.
“I found Mr. Duquette very interesting, but I don’t think he would be the best fit for a one year superintendent,” Scott Aghababian said.
Johnson, who was interviewed just prior to the discussion, recently served as superintendent in Sandwich. Aghababian put forward a motion to move her along as a finalist as well, but was unable to get another member to second the motion.
“Dr. Johnson impressed me the most, in terms of her experience as superintendent and the vision that we talked about that she seemed to share with us,” Aghababian said.
“What Johnson has done [in Sandwich] is really catching up to where we already are in our district. I feel like they are about 5 years behind where we are now,” Rebecca Robak said.
The next step for the School Committee is to call up references that Hiersche has submitted and gain feedback from all across the district that he worked in. After that Hiersche will meet with several of the principals and administrators from the district on July 18 before the School Committee decides at their meeting that night whether he will be hired or not.
“This is far from an offer,” Graziano said.
Were you impressed or turned off by Hiersche's interview and background? Sound off in the comments section and share what you see as his strengths and weaknesses.