This site aims to inform and mobilize Beverly parents to take an active role in all issues related to the funding and operation of the city's schools. It was launched in the spring of 2008, when the city saw its first-ever override attempt fail, followed by the closure of a nearly-new elementary school. Subsequent years have seen further cuts that have led to larger class sizes across the district. While the opening of an impressive new high school and plans to replace the city's aging middle school give us reason to be optimistic, the school community must be ever vigilant in demanding appropriate school funding by city and state governments, and better community communications from the district and School Committee.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Committee Goes with Hiersche

The School Committee went with the most experienced candidate tonight, giving the top vote for Superintendent to Dr. Steven Hiersche over the three other finalists. Hiersche is a former superintendent in Framingham, Watertown and Plymouth, and currently the Interim Executive Director at the ACCEPT Education Collaborative in Natick.

Members had praise for each of the other candidates, and seemed especially high on Wellesley High Principal Andrew Keough, who both Kris Silverstein and Annemarie Cesa declared as their top choice. Committee member Matt Kavanagh also suggested that Keough would have been his personal favorite, but felt that Hiersche was the experienced hand that the district needed right now, considering the void at the top of the administration, which currenly also lacks an assistant superintendent. In the end the committee agreed that experience trumped all the other considerations at this point in the district's evolution.

The vote to endorse the choice of Hiersche was 5-2 with Silverstein and Cesa voting no. Following the initial vote, the committee voted to reconsider, and gave Hiersche a unanimous 7-0 vote of support.

In-house candidate Sean Gallagher received universal praise for his performance as principal of Beverly High, and was credited by Paul Manzo for his vision in leading many district-wide initiatives. But all members felt that he was not yet ready for the Superintendent role compared to the other, more experienced candidates.

Next week the committee will conduct site visits to confirm their choice of Hiersche, before negotiating a contract, and making the choice official.

NOVEMBER 16, UPDATE: Today's Salem News has more details on the selection of Hiersche and details his lengthy resume:
Hiersche is the interim executive director for the ACCEPT Education Collaborative, and he served 17 years as a superintendent in Hopkinton, Framingham, Watertown, Plymouth and Orleans. He was also a principal in Vermont for nine years. He has a master’s degree in education from Westfield State College and a doctorate in education from the University of Sarasota. 
as well as some of the potential cautionary points:
Misgivings about Hiersche include the fact that he will continue to live in Bourne, although it was suggested he could stay in Beverly during the week. “My concern isn’t just that he doesn’t live in the city,” said Manzi. “He’s two hours away.” He added, “I’m a little cautious of his style to a degree. ... Some people are going to love it. Some people are not going to love it.”

“He has a big personality,” noted Kavanagh.

Cesa noted that Hiersche had won the superintendent’s job in Mashpee earlier this year only to have contract negotiations break off and another candidate given the job. Not mentioned was a May 10 article in revealing that “some school committee members expressed concern about Dr. Hiersche after Framingham media outlets alleged that school officials had mishandled sexual assault cases while Dr. Hiersche led the district.” But his supporters on the Beverly board dismissed the Mashpee matter as a contract dispute.
The Mashpee situation, which was known to members of the Beverly committee, is of some concern, but further research shows the situation may have been as much a result of tribal politics in Mashpee as anything.

Below is the BevCam video of the School Committee discussion and voting session:


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