n-falEntwistle-021209 Mass. town taps Falmouth school chief
FALMOUTH — Superintendent of Schools George Entwistle III will become the school chief in Belmont, Mass.
The Belmont School Committee announced its unanimous selection of Entwistle on Tuesday, after a search process that included three elimination rounds, multiple interviews and a visit to Falmouth.
Pending successful contract negotiations, Entwistle will lead the 3,800-student suburban Boston district starting July 1, Belmont committee Chairman John Bowe said.
"I think George knew we liked him a lot – we liked him during his interviews and liked him even more during his site visit," Bowe said. "He was unbelievably open about who we could talk to. He seems to bring out the best in people, motivating them to work hard and enjoy that work. He exuded teamwork and that's one thing we found attractive because, frankly, our town needs that."
Initially, the Belmont committee had some concern about Entwistle's experience, Bowe said. His business background and employment history as an executive in the private sector had some committee members questioning his effectiveness in an educational setting. But during his interviews, the Belmont board felt Entwistle demonstrated his abilities as a facilitator and a community builder.
In a phone interview Wednesday morning, Entwistle called the appointment a "great opportunity" and said he's confident he and the Belmont School Committee will be able to negotiate an acceptable contract. Entwistle is originally from Massachusetts and said he is excited about returning to his home state.
The position will put him in charge of another high-performing district that consists of four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school in a town with a population of 25,000, more than twice the size of Falmouth.
"There is a tremendous opportunity to improve the (Belmont) district overall and the performance of students," Entwistle said. "There's a great sense of passion and excitement about the work they're doing; I can help move that work forward. There are some things they struggle with as well that I feel I can help improve. It's just a very good match."
Entwistle holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of
Massachusetts at Amherst, a master’s degree in psychology from Assumption
College and a doctorate in education from Boston University. He has been Falmouth's superintendent for nearly five years and currently earns $120,532 a year. In Belmont, the interim superintendent earns $180,000, Bowe said, and the town's previous superintendent would have been making about $190,000.
Although Entwistle said he will sell his Cape Elizabeth home when he moves to Massachusetts, a second home he and his family own outside of Sugarloaf will continue to tie them to Maine.
"It's been a terrific time here," Entwistle said. "We've accomplished a tremendous amount. ... I know Falmouth will continue to be a strong school district and I would like to think I had a part in that."
Falmouth School Board Chairwoman Beppie Cerf said Belmont's choice is "a terrific reflection on Falmouth."
"They've got themselves a terrific superintendent and they're lucky to have him," she said. Cerf also praised Entwistle's ability to build relationships with all of the town's education stakeholders.
The Falmouth board must now find a new superintendent by July 1 and the discussion has not yet begun. The board next meets on Feb. 24 and will consider its options, Cerf said, which include appointing an interim superintendent or mounting a search for a permanent replacement.
Assistant Superintendent Barbara Powers has her superintendent's certification, Cerf said, but at this point, nothing has been decided.