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Final Interviews for Superintendent Candidates at the Chenery Tonight

School Committee members will ask questions beginning at 6 p.m.

Anne Mckenzie will be interviewed at 6:00 p.m. followed by John Phelan at 7:45.
Anne Mckenzie will be interviewed at 6:00 p.m. followed by John Phelan at 7:45.
One thing Belmont School Committee Chair Laurie Graham knows about the two finalists – Dr. Anne McKenzie, executive director of the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative and John Phelan, assistant superintendent at the Milton Public Schools – to become the next Belmont School District Superintendent is that they were pretty enthused with the district.

When Graham called the two districts for peer recommendations, "each one talked to their own people about how impressed they were with Belmont," she said, noting how each spoke highly of the groups – students, teachers, staff, School Committee and residents – they spoke to "about how collabriative and invested they were in the schools."

Now the Belmont School Committee will have one final chance to interview McKenzie and Phelan tonight, Wednesday, Dec. 11 at the Chenery Middle School at 95 Washington St.

Mckenzie will be interviewed at 6 p.m. followed by Phelan at 7:45 p.m. 

The community can watch the interviews live via cable or online through the Belmont Media Center. 

"We liked all they candidates. Each one of them had real strengths and have different qualities that they would bring to Belmont," said Belmont School Committee Chair Laurie Graham Monday, Dec. 9, when the committee choose the two finalists.

"It will be very interesting evaluating the two because it's not like you can toss a coin to make a decision, calling each thoughtful, engaged and "interested and willing to come to Belmont."

The difference between the two as seen by the School Committee members was evident by the comments during the public discussion before Monday's vote. 

Many committee members called McKenzie "confident" with a great deal of administrative experience with Anne Lougee saying McKenzie received the most favorable comments from each of the groups that met with her. Lisa Fiore said that McKenzie "dropped a lot of references" on her vision for the district which she wants to "inquire more about" and dwell deeper in what she sees views is the meaning of "team work" in running the district. 

Each member noted Phelan's hands-on central office experience that is "translatable to Belmont" while demonstrating a willingness to "roll up his sleeves" to tackle the job, according to Fiore. Lougee commented that while she was concerned by Phelan's comment to push all students to take Advance Placement courses – "we have a lot of stress already" – she believes that he would "stretch" students to accept challenges. 

Graham said Wednesday's meeting will be the opportunity for committee members to have past answers clarified and new quires explored. 

"That's our task for Wednesday, determining what questions to ask each candidate to try and give them time to have a more expansive answer on what would they do here," said Graham.

"It's a challenge for us and one of the reasons we had a little bit of time between the interviews and [Monday's] decision so we can do some thoughtful analysis on who would be best fit into Belmont's structure," she said. 

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