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Lebanon School Chief to Step Down at End of Academic Year

Lebanon Superintendent Gail Paludi applauds for a retiring employee before the deliberative session about the Lebanon school budget held at Lebanon Middle School in Lebanon, N.H., on Feb. 1, 2014. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen)

Lebanon Superintendent Gail Paludi applauds for a retiring employee before the deliberative session about the Lebanon school budget held at Lebanon Middle School in Lebanon, N.H., on Feb. 1, 2014. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Purchase photo reprints »

Lebanon — The superintendent of the Lebanon public school system will resign at the end of the school year in June.

Gail E. Paludi, who replaced Mike Harris in 2010 and oversaw the completion of the $25 million Lebanon Middle School, confirmed on Wednesday that she has submitted her resignation to the Lebanon School Board.

Board Chairman Jeff Peavey said that the 62-year-old Paludi cited “family reasons” for her decision. Board member Hank Tenney said that Paludi has been commuting 40 miles daily between Lebanon and Washington, N.H., where she lives.

“It’s quite a trip every day,” Tenney said. “It’s a long haul. She’s really been a trouper, going back and forth. ... I know she must be leaving for a good reason. She wouldn’t just up and leave.”

Paludi on Wednesday declined to talk publicly about her reasons for leaving until the board formally accepts her resignation at next week’s regular board meeting.

Paludi came to Lebanon from School Administrative Unit 53 in Pembroke, N.H., where she had been an assistant superintendent for two years. During a career of nearly 40 years in education, she also worked as a teacher and principal in Hollis, N.H., before joining the Pembroke system.

When the School Board chose Paludi from among three finalists in 2010, then-Vice Chairwoman Mary Jane Thibodeau cited her “strong curriculum and assessment experience” as tipping opinion in her favor.

Paludi started in Lebanon at a salary of $110,000, and is earning $115,189 this year, SAU 88 business manager James Fenn said on Wednesday.

In addition to shepherding the move of grades 5 and 6 from the city’s elementary schools and grades 7 and 8 from the old Lebanon Junior High School to the new middle school, she also guided the consolidation from five elementary schools to two.

During budget deliberations for the 2014-2015 school year, Paludi worked with school administrators to find $1.2 million in cuts that the School Board ordered from the initial spending proposal of more than $40 million .

Those cuts resulted in Lebanon Middle School losing a reading teacher and the city’s special-education program losing two paraprofessionals.

Peavey praised Paludi for the “accountability level” she brought to the school administration.

“She’s taken us a long ways on the evaluation process — for teachers, principals, and other administration,” Peavey said. “It’s more formalized, so that the board knows what’s being done.”

Tenney added that Paludi also gave priority to “updating the policy manual, which we have tried to do for many, many years, and putting them in line with state standards and regulations.”

Most of all, Tenney credited Paludi with “a great job of communicating with the board, of getting us into the schools, creating good relationships between the board and the principals.”

Peavey said that it will be up to school board members to decide whether the district hires an interim superintendent and embarks on a long search for a permanent replacement, or whether to accelerate the search process with an eye toward bringing in the new person by the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

Tenney said that finding the right candidate in a few months can be tricky, because “a superintendent has to give notice wherever they are. It’s tough.

“You don’t want to hurry through this. You want somebody who’s going to be a good fit.”

David Corriveau can be reached at dacorriveau@gmail.com and at 603-727-3304.