n-falentwistle-011509 Falmouth school chief a finalist for Mass. job

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FALMOUTH — Superintendent of Schools George Entwistle III is one of four finalists for the school chief’s job in Belmont, Mass.
Entwistle on Tuesday said he felt compelled to apply for the position because Belmont presents a great opportunity and because of the uncertainty surrounding school reorganization in Falmouth.
“I’m pleased to be selected as a finalist; I’m excited to learn more about Belmont and for them to learn more about me,” he said. “But it’s not just, ‘hey, I’ve got a job and I’m going.’ It’s important for there to be a great fit between the community and the superintendent.”
Last March, Entwistle was picked to be superintendent of the Sharon, Mass., public schools, but he withdrew less than a day after the appointment was made, Gail Handler of the Sharon superintendent’s office said.
Entwistle said he declined Sharon’s offer because his work in Falmouth was unfinished. In addition, he said he was unsure about his compatibility with the district.
Entwistle said the Belmont position is the only job he is considering.
Entwistle was hired by Falmouth in 2004. Under a contract that expires this year, his annual salary is $120,532, according to School Board Chairwoman Beppie Cerf, who said Entwistle is “a terrific superintendent and we’re indeed fortunate to have him.”
Belmont’s interim superintendent earns $180,000 a year, Belmont School Committee Chairman John Bowie said Tuesday. But Belmont’s previous superintendent would have been making $190,000, he said.
Bowie said the search process began by compiling a leadership profile that the School Committee supplied to a consulting firm, he said.
Thirty-four applicants were then forwarded to a 12-member search committee that selected seven candidates for interviews, Belmont Assistant Superintendent Denis Fitzpatrick said Tuesday. From the interviews, the committee named four finalists.
As a finalist, Entwistle will be invited to visit the district for a full day, Fitzpatrick said. On Jan. 24, each candidate will have a 90-minute public interview with the School Committee.
Once the interviews are completed, the committee could decide to make site visits to one or more of the candidates’ districts, Fitzpatrick said.
Although Fitzpatrick and Bowe both declined to comment specifically on their impressions of Entwistle and his qualifications, Bowie indicated the Falmouth superintendent’s experience dealing with the process of consolidation may be beneficial to the Belmont district.
Entwistle said Maine’s state-mandated process to reorganize districts last year took a toll on him and others who put in long hours to craft a proposal, only
to have it voted down last November by Falmouth residents.
“I think the whole consolidation was a huge distraction and for me, it
felt like it was another half-time job added to an already full-time
job,” Entwistle said.
Belmont has a population of about 25,000, compared to Falmouth’s population of about 11,000. The Belmont School
Department has 3,800 students, four elementary schools, one
middle school and a high school. The high school
offers more than 20 advanced placement courses and the SAT mean scores
“are significantly higher than state and national means,” according to the department’s Web site.
Entwistle lives in Cape Elizabeth and is a Massachusetts native. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, a master’s degree in psychology from Assumption College and a doctorate in education from Boston University.
“I would hope that people would see (applying for the position) as what a rational and practical person would do,” he said. “I would be surprised if folks wouldn’t think I would look out for the well-being of my family given the uncertainty of what was happening.”

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.