At an unusual Wednesday night meeting of the Southbridge School Committee Patricia E. Gardner was appointed Superintendent of the Southbridge School District. She will succeed Basan Nembirkow who had previously announced that he would leave the position at the end of June. He cited health and age as reasons for his departure. Gardner’s appointment is for a one year term, from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015.
Ms. Gardner has served as the District’s Director of Teaching and Learning since August of 2013. Prior to that she had served as principal of Turners Falls High School in the Gill-Montague Regional School District.
School Committee member Christopher Olivo moved to amend the motion to appoint to make the position “interim Superintendent”. He stated his belief that such an action would allow Ms. Gardner to act in the Superintendent’s role while a search committee was formed. Then, if she wished, she could apply for the full time position along with other interested parties.
Chairman McLoughlin objected stating that she had consulted with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Mass. Association of School Committees and that the term “interim Superintendent” was not a legal term. Mr. Olivo responded by reading from his laptop a number of job postings for the position of “interim Superintendent” or "Superintendent" from the MASC website.
When his motion to amend failed to garner a second, and following a period of questioning of Ms. Gardner by committee members, a roll call vote was taken. The final vote was four in favor (Congdon, Donovan, McLoughlin and Quinney) of Ms. Gardner’s appointment with Mr. Olivo abstaining.