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Lebanon High Could Employ Interim AD

At Meeting Tonight, School Board May Temporarily Fill Position

Lebanon — The school board appears poised to select an interim athletic director for the high school tonight, two weeks after the search for the vacant position soured following grievances from board members over the hiring process.

Aside from wanting a seat on the search committee, board members expressed frustration earlier this month about certification for the athletic director, who in Lebanon also oversees co-curricular activities.

School Board Chairman Jeff Peavey said tweaking the job description to relieve the athletic director of the requirement could be looked at “down the road,” but for now it is more important to get someone in place on an interim basis.

“After that, the board can decide to look at different options,” Peavey said.

Board member Hank Tenney, who has several decades of experience overseeing school athletics, said there have been some “positive suggestions” since the last meeting. He anticipated progress being made at tonight’s discussion, but would not elaborate on what that might entail.

“If everything falls into place and it works out, well then we’ve got a good solution,” Tenney said. “But you never know until it falls apart at the last minute, so I don’t want to say anything without the board’s final approval, but I’m pretty optimistic this time.”

While the search for the athletic director has led to tension on the school board, it has also resulted in hand-wringing among longtime Lebanon residents and sports enthusiasts.

Jim Vanier, who is the youth center coordinator at the CCBA downtown, said that he has observed widespread frustration rippling throughout the athletic community over the requirement for a principal’s certification.

“How many good applicants haven’t applied because of that stipulation?” Vanier asked.

Superintendent Gail Paludi said in an email Tuesday evening that she does not know how many other districts share the requirement, nor does she know how long it has been in place in Lebanon.

“I don’t know how long this requirement has been in place but it is my understanding that it has been in place for many years,” Paludi said.

Judith Fillion, director of the New Hampshire Department of Education’s bureau of credentialing, said she has received “several inquiries” about the position in Lebanon requiring certification as a principal to hold the title of athletic and co-curricular activities director.

“It is not a (state mandated) certification requirement, but since these employees are assigned administrative responsibilities, I understand why districts are asking for the certification,” said Fillion.

Fillion forwarded requests over how many districts share the requirement to New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association Executive Director Patrick Corbin, who did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday.

Peavey said that the school board did not have a specific candidate in mind for the interim position.

Kieth Matte, the high school boys basketball coach who was said to be one of the finalists for the job, would not close the door on the possibility of being nominated to take over the position on an interim basis, but also stressed that the school board was in charge of making that decision, and had not yet done so.

“I am aware that they might appoint an interim and I have expressed interest in that position,” Matte said. “I don’t know anything else about it.”

Asked whether he would be in attendance at tonight’s meeting, Matte replied, “I’m hoping somebody will ask me to be at the meeting.”

Rich Parker, an accomplished former Lebanon athlete and former member of the school board who coaches golf at Dartmouth College, expressed disappointment that the position has been used as a “stepping stone” for administrative types.

He said part of the focus of the search committee should be to recruit candidates who would stay at the position for more than five years.

“It’s a great job. Our community is a great community,” Parker said.

But Parker also worried that the requirement of a principal’s certification was thinning the pool of candidates for what he described as a “very demanding” position in terms of a time commitment.

He showed specific concern that some of the younger candidates who do not hold the certification were being disqualified.

“Lebanon is going to survive this,” Parker said. “We had a fire that burnt down the town. We’re a resilient town, but we shouldn’t have to keep dealing with this stuff.”

Ben Conarck can be reached at bconarck@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.