Turnover Continues In Lebanon
High School Principal, Finance Chief to Resign
Lebanon High School principal Nan Parsons walks the field hockey sideline on Sept. 10, 2013. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)
Lebanon — A surprised School Board accepted the resignations of two top administrators at its meeting Wednesday night.
Lebanon High School Principal Nan Parsons and School District Business Administrator Jim Fenn will step down from their posts this summer.
After the meeting, School Board Chairman Jeff Peavey said he was “shocked” by the two resignations.
“We didn’t see it coming,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of turnover this year.”
Superintendent Gail Paludi, who announced her intention to leave her post in April, and Parsons will wrap up their work on June 30. Fenn will depart on Aug. 1, leaving the district with three key spots to fill this summer.
“How do we get people that quickly?” board member Kathleen Berger wondered aloud after the meeting.
Parsons, who was not at the meeting, said in an email to the Valley News that she is leaving to become the associate director of the Lebanon-based Upper Valley Educators Institute, where her focus will be on the principal leadership program.
She said she has worked closely with UVEI for the past 15 years and that her “philosophy of education” aligns well with that of the institute.
Among Parson’s accomplishments during her more than seven-year tenure has been increased scrutiny of the school’s teachers. At the School Board’s request, she instituted annual evaluations of every teacher.
“I have worked tirelessly to create an equitable education for all students to learn at a high level and to create opportunities for student voice and choice in their education,” Parsons, a former principal at Canaan Elementary School, said in her email. “I have been blessed to work with so many wonderful teachers, administrators, parents, school board members, community members and most importantly students. LHS students are exceptional in so many ways. I am honored to have been their principal.”
The six board members present voted unanimously to accept Parsons’ resignation, while Berger voted against accepting Fenn’s.
After the meeting, Berger said it was a show of appreciation for Fenn’s nine years of work for the school district, dealing with a school budget now approaching $40 million.
“He’s done such a great job,” she said. “I’m not happy he’s leaving.”
She pointed in particular to Fenn’s accurate record-keeping, consistent attendance at meetings and his availability to answer board members’ questions.
Fenn said in an interview that an opportunity in the private sector had become available to him. While he would not disclose where he would be working, he said it would be nearby and afford him the opportunity to “do a little more accounting.”
He noted that his job has required him to understand and manage complex legal issues such as personnel contracts, risk management and changing federal regulations in health care and food service.
Fenn, who has participated in the school district’s sale of three buildings, said he hoped a fourth — that of the former Sacred Heart Public School — was on the horizon.
After 25 years in the public sphere, including stints in schools in Bow, N.H., Newport and Windsor, Fenn said he is looking forward to a job without night meetings. He also said he understood the board faces a challenge in filling three administrative positions at once.
“I gave them as much time as I could because it takes a while,” he said.
Though Berger voted to accept Parsons’ resignation, she did so unhappily.
She described the resignations as a “huge disruption in the whole system.”
The two job descriptions will be listed on SchoolSpring.com today.
Peavey said the board will be forming two new hiring committees and reopening the search for superintendent because they have yet to find a qualified candidate.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said.
Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3213.