PVPA head stepping down in January 


Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 24, 2020

SOUTH HADLEY — Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Public Charter School’s executive director will step down from his role effective Jan. 31, the school announced Friday.

Marc Kenen, who has served as PVPA’s executive director since April 2018, was initially set to complete his term at the end of the school year in June, but for several reasons, “the end of January seemed like a better transition moment for the school and for me,” he said in an interview Monday.

Kenen cited the school recently reaching its first labor contract with the staff union and its five-year charter renewal, which he said felt like “good transition moments.” Additionally, he said his early exit will save the school money.

“As schools in the country and the Valley are tightening their belts, this will enable the school to save five months of my salary,” Kenen said, which he noted works out to almost the equivalent of a teacher’s yearly salary in savings. He added, “That seems like a worthwhile contribution for me to make to the school’s welfare.”

Kenen directed questions on when the school plans to fill his role to board of trustees president Mindi Winter. Winter could not be reached for comment on Monday. The board of trustees will announce its plans on hiring a new executive director at its meeting next month.

Kenen, a Haydenville resident, was hired as a transitional executive director for a three-year period following two rocky transitions in school leadership. In 2018, former executive director George Simpson was fired six months into the job after he was arrested on charges of possession of heroin and methamphetamine. Simpson’s predecessor, Scott Goldman, announced in 2016 that he would resign at the end of the school year, taking many at the school by surprise.

Prior to becoming executive director, Kenen had been involved with PVPA for around 20 years, first as a parent of two PVPA students and later as a board member. He previously served as executive director of the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association and director of the University of Massachusestts Amherst’s Student Center for Educational Research and Advocacy.

PVPA officials will next seek a longer-term executive director to lead the school through at least the next five years of its charter, Kenen said.

Following his departure, Kenen hopes to see the school “find a great leader to lead them out of the pandemic and back into the school,” he said, while continuing “to provide a great performing arts education for the Valley.”

A pod of 30 high-needs students currently attend in-person classes full-time, Kenen said, and school officials hope to add a second 30-student pod at some point in the spring semester. Further plans to return students to the building are still pending.

Kenen expects a busy next few months as the end of his tenure nears.

“Running a public school in a pandemic is like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and we’ll be continuing to work very diligently to support our school and our students,” he said.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.