The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 11, 2008

Rigby chosen new CCHS Superintendent

The Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) members on April 8 voted unanimously to offer the job of superintendent of both the Concord Public School and the Concord-Carlisle Regional School District to Assistant Superintendent Diana Rigby. She is to replace Superintendent Brenda Finn, who is retiring at the end of the school year.

RSC Chair Michael Fitzgerald described that over the last three weeks, the committee has gathered results from focus groups, a survey, an interview, site visits and evaluations. He asked RSC members to share what they had learned from the site visits.

Staff and Concord officials praise Rigby, note fast pace

RSC member Jerry Wedge said that they had talked to a wide range of people and got everyone’s perspective. “She has a high level of intellect and energy…We had to prod them for concerns.” RSC member Fabian Fondriest added that Rigby was praised for having turned around the special education program, which was in disarray when she arrived.

RSC member Becky Shannon heard from her site visits that, “Diana is a very good listener; she’s very approachable; she supports team efforts and is always asking ‘What do you need?’…Rigby is very empowering to people.” Shannon added that the Concord Finance Department was impressed with Rigby’s knowledge of the budget. Shannon said Rigby was great at getting information out and is very responsive. She concluded, “Diana treats everyone respectfully. She’s passionate and cares about children and staff.”

RSC member Peter Fischelis relayed a story from a secretary at one school building who had been left alone in the office while other staff attended a funeral. She said Rigby came over to help her to do whatever had to be done, such as answer phones, fill out attendance sheets, etc. The secretary was exceedingly grateful. “She steps in to do any job.”

Fitzgerald said the feedback he got at the high school was very positive. “She’s very visible, very responsive, quick and energetic. She’s extremely supportive of the staff. She is dedicated to student achievement.”

Each RSC member also heard concerns about Rigby’s fast pace and not everyone felt they could match it. Some staff noted, however, that if one explains why more time is needed, Rigby will revisit the time table.

References checked

Fischelis spoke with Michael Caston in California who was the Superintendent of the Santa Barbara School District when Rigby worked there as Director of Student Services. He then became the superintendent of a school district in San Diego. In 2005, he was named AASA California Superintendent of the Year. He is now employed in an executive search firm which specializes in placing superintendents. Fischelis said, “He validated that the current pool of applicants for superintendent jobs is slim.” Caston praised Rigby saying, “She is in the top 1% of all administrators I’ve worked with. I couldn’t give her a higher recommendation.” Given Caston’s position, Fondriest said, “That’s the barber telling you ‘You don’t need a haircut.’”

Fischelis also spoke with the chair of the Santa Barbara School Committee when Rigby worked there, who said, “She is a consummate professional. I’d hire her back in five seconds!” In regards to the lawsuit in which Rigby was involved, the California school committee chair said, “Everything was handled by the school and Diana correctly. There’s no reason for concern there. It was a very difficult situation with very motivated parents. We always were 120% behind any decisions Diana made. We totally supported her.”

All the RSC members voiced the full support of Rigby, commenting on her many attributes. McGinn, who had been the most vocal about the few dissenters that were not pleased with Rigby as a candidate said, “She has the skill set and she is very child/student-centered.” She also praised Rigby for embracing “collaborative integrity. That’s a goal everyone shares.” Fischelis put it well, “We have a gem in Diana. We are incredibly lucky in these districts to have her. Her energy level is contagious. She is truly passionate about education, the kids and Concord. She wants to be here…I’m 110% behind her.” Wedge also felt the committee had addressed the issue of not doing a national search.

RSC faced resistance for internal search

Fitzgerald said, “We have taken a lot of heat from the public on the process. I am very appreciative of people that came forward…I am fully behind her. She can handle this job…I kept coming back to ‘Does this person enjoy what she is doing?’ She totally enjoys her job. I am very impressed with her dedication to children. I want to see high energy. I am fully in favor of Diana as a candidate.”

RSC member Chad Koski was not at the meeting. Fitzgerald said, “Chad would concur with all these points.”

Fischelis ended the meeting by saying, “My real hope is that we can now focus our energies on the future. We did our utmost to listen to all and we believe this is the best direction for our school systems. We request that all citizens, parents and teachers welcome Diana with an open mind so we can really focus on collaboration, making our districts the best they can be.”

The job offer is contingent upon successful conclusion of negotiations. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito