BOYLSTON — The Berlin Boylston Regional School Board voted unanimously to hire Carol Costello as superintendent of schools for the district.

The committee had interviewed Costello at its previous meeting and confirmed support for Costello, currently assistant superintendent, to take the leadership position when Superintendent Jeffrey Zanghi retires at the end of the school year.

The Sept. 27 move fills a key administrative position and gives Costello a year to work with Zanghi before she takes over.

Although some, at least initially, had concerns about the process, which did not include an open research process, the committee praised Costello’s experience and referenced community support. Costello first worked for the district administration as a curriculum coordinator and before that he had been principal of the Berlin Memorial School.

Several members of the school council said they initially supported a search to fill the position.

“It’s not uncommon for a school district to screen internal applicants before conducting an external search,” member Adam Wilbur said after reviewing survey feedback about the hiring.

Initially a strong proponent of conducting external research, Wilbur said he changed his position “because of the quality of the candidates here in the district.”

He noted that other schools promoted internal applicants without considering external applicants, including neighboring West Boylston.

Given Costello’s strong backing and a relatively inexperienced management team, “I would be hesitant to nominate an outside candidate at this point,” Wilbur said.

New principals will be selected to fill positions at Tahanto Regional High School and Boylston Elementary School, and other administrative positions have recently been filled.

President Lori-Anne Hart reviewed the process as board members voiced their support for Costello.

“This summer I learned that the school board has the right to appoint rather than do a full-scale search,” Hart said, “and that’s something we discussed at executive meetings as well as on the terrain – trying to determine if this was the appropriate route to take.

“In our quest, this board chose to interview Ms. Costello at our last meeting, with the vote on the nomination falling two weeks later. This was intentional, as we wanted to give ourselves time to reflect on this important decision. while giving the community time to share their thoughts on both the nominee and the process,” Hart added.

Member Robert Holmes also noted the expenses.

“Digging further, I learned that this process would take several months and result in a high price tag, potentially $30,000 to $50,000,” Holmes said. “We also learned that there is not a large pool of qualified candidates to be found. This process would be slow, costly and potentially unsuccessful.

“In the meantime, if I really personally felt that Ms. Costello was the absolute best person for this job, would it still make sense to go through this process?” he added. “Would it make sense to compromise all that time that could be spent holding a new superintendent accountable? Would it make sense to spend all that taxpayer money? What would be the argument for doing so? The answer for me was optics. We would for optics. We would do this to avoid reviews that we didn’t search hard enough.

“From my perspective, Ms. Costello will be an absolute rock star of a superintendent, and a blessing to this school district and the children in it,” Holmes said. “I could not in good faith support what would ultimately be a dog and pony show of a recruiting process, wasting taxpayer dollars and delaying the opportunity for a new superintendent to begin executing his vision.”

Holmes also noted, “She has years of demonstrated performance in this district, and the shows of support from those who have actually interacted with her are many.”

Member Michael Totman noted that delaying a search process “would add another year of uncertainty”.

Hiring Costello “gives us one thing we know,” Totman said. “There are still a lot of uncertainties. At least we can get the head of the organization locked up. It would go a long way in trying to recover from this devastating situation we find ourselves in.

“A well-meaning friend warned me that naming Carol without doing a full search could cost me a seat in the next election,” Hart said. “It is important for the community to know that I take this position seriously. My job is to do what is best for the students given my overall view of the situation. It is without hesitation and with great confidence that I believe Carol should be our next superintendent.

The committee followed the vote with an executive session to discuss contract strategy and negotiations.

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