School Superintendent Search Q & A


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Jennifer Shiao’s School Committee Blog

Editor’s note: . Jennifer Shiao is a member of the Amherst School Committee. Her original posts can be found here.  An archive of her blog posts in The Indy can be found here.

Q: What’s going on with the superintendent search?

A: The Regional School Committee and the Union 26 Committee (“the joint committees”) have decision making authority, jointly, on the superintendent position. (See my previous blog post for a primer on the various committees.) We are currently in the process of conducting a nation-wide search for a new superintendent. Our goal is to have the new person in place starting on July 1, 2024.

Q: Who is going to decide who the new superintendent is?
A: By state law, the joint committees make hiring decisions for the superintendent position. That said, this search process will include a 20-member Search Committee that will recommend finalists to the joint committees.

The Search Committee will be made up of parents/guardians, community members, ARPS employees, ARHS students, and School Committee members. The Search Committee will review all applicants to the position, select candidates to interview, conduct interviews of those candidates, and decide on a number of finalists to recommend to the joint committees. The joint committees have the ultimate decision-making authority for the superintendent position.

The Search Committee will be composed of a diverse group of people from all backgrounds, walks of life, and identities, including race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, socio-economic background and more!

Q: How do I get on the Search Committee?
A: Those interested in serving on the Search Committee should fill out the interest form. You can access the online forms, and other information about the search process, on the  Superintendent Search page of the ARPS website.

Q: Who will decide the Search Committee membership?
A: Membership on the Search Committee will ultimately be voted on by the joint committees. We have room for 20 people on the Search Committee, and if more than 20 people fill out the interest form, then the Subcommittee for a New Superintendent will review the applications and make a recommendation to the joint committees as to who the members will be. The joint committees will then discuss/deliberate, and vote on the final list. Names of all individuals who submit an interest form will be made public.

Q: Who is on the Subcommittee for a New Superintendent (SNS)?
A: Members of the SNS are:
Anna Heard (Shutesbury representative on the Regional School Committee)
William Sherr (Pelham representative on the Regional School Committee)
Jennifer Shiao (Amherst representative on the Regional School Committee)
Margaret Stancer (Pelham representative on the Union 26 Committee)

Q: What does the SNS do?
A: The SNS is a subcommittee of the joint committees, and as such it makes recommendations to the joint committees. The SNS is not empowered to make decisions that are actually the purview of the joint committees. The SNS has been doing the legwork and research on the superintendent search, and bringing recommendations to the joint committees.

For example, the SNS administered an RFP (request for proposal) for a search consultant last month. We worked with the district to post the RFP on the “Goods and Services Bulletin” (a state portal for RFPs), we received and reviewed the five proposals, and made a recommendation to the joint committees to hire McPherson and Jacobson as the search consultant for the superintendent position. Of the qualifying proposals submitted, McPherson and Jacobson’s was the most high quality and demonstrated that the firm has deep experience in public K-12 superintendent searches. The joint committees voted to accept this recommendation at the November 28 meeting.

Q: How can I keep up to date on the superintendent search?
A: Check out the Superintendent Search webpage ( for information, updates, and a timeline, on the search process.

This blog reflects my own views about the Amherst and Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committees – it does not represent the view of the committees, the district, or the superintendent. This blog complies with Open Meeting Law, as long as a quorum of School Committee members do not engage in deliberations in the comments. Comments are welcome. I may respond to comments, but I will not respond to all comments. Sign up here using the “follow blog via email” form to be notified when I post a new entry.  You can email me at

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