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Bilingual superintendent urged

Community offers opinions on Hanley's replacement

Search Consultant Pat Corriera, standing, fields comments from some of the people who attended Tuesday’s community focus group regarding the superintendent search at the high school. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
March 23, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — For the dozen people attending Tuesday's community focus group on the superintendent search, there seemed to be one major point of agreement — Dale Hanley's successor needs to be able to reach out to the town, especially its Hispanic population.

"I don't think we're over the bridge yet and may need someone who can drag us over it kicking and screaming," said Patrick LoConto, who'd prefer that person be bilingual. Having the new superintendent introduce him/herself "in their native tongue would blow the kids away," he added.

Earlier, he had noted the candidate needs to have "multi-faceted ability" to deal with the school project, the ongoing turnaround plan and the town's demographic mix, among other things.

Luz Espino agreed, noting the newcomer needs to be "open-minded" and able to "get this 'demographic' word out of our vocabulary" by encouraging all students to succeed.

"Maybe a minority superintendent would be welcome or of great value," she said.

Search consultant Pat Corriera of the Mass. Association of School Committees said there aren't many of them available because they tend to get jobs fast. That's partly because few lower-level people (of any ethnicity) have the opportunity to move into assistant superintedencies — with budget cuts, those jobs often don't exist — so they don't get the kind of on-the-training that used to provide a field of potential superintendents.

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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