Lebanon to Hire Interim Superintendent

Lebanon — The school district is accepting applications for an interim superintendent to replace Gail Paludi, who plans to step down at the end of the school year.

School Board Chairman Jeff Peavey said there is not enough time to find a permanent successor before Paludi departs at the end of June.

“There are not a lot of superintendents out there,” Peavey said in an interview Monday.

By this time of year, he said, most superintendents are locked into contracts for the upcoming school year.

Peavey said he was hopeful that the board would “have a name” by the end of May and that the interim hire would be ready to take the reins by July 1.

A brief job description for the interim position posted on SchoolSpring.com lists just a few qualifications, including prior experience as a New Hampshire superintendent and experience negotiating collective bargaining agreements.

School Board member Kathleen Berger, chairwoman of the board’s personnel and negotiations committee, said she hoped the district’s temporary leader would communicate well with principals, school board members and staff to create a smooth transition as the district continues the search for a permanent replacement.

The district’s most “pressing need” is to find someone with experience in negotiating teacher contracts, Berger said.

With teacher contracts coming up for discussion in the fall, Berger said, “we can’t start training somebody on how to negotiate.”

The deadline to apply for the interim position is Thursday. A salary has not been set.

“We don’t have a top or a bottom” for the superintendent’s salary, said Berger, who added that pay would be commensurate with experience.

As for Paludi’s permanent replacement, School Board member Richard Milius expressed support for the incumbent’s “strong, rational” management style and said he hoped for “more of the same” in a new leader.

He said Paludi, who is finishing her fourth year with the district, helped the board to review an “awful lot” of its policies.

“It’s great to have the superintendent on the same page like that,” said Milius.

Asked about the board’s disagreements with Paludi over topics such as merit pay for teachers, implementing full-day kindergarten and the hiring of a high school athletic director, Milius said it’s “healthy” to have “give and take” between the School Board and the superintendent.

Berger said when the School Board sits down later this year to consider the job description for a permanent superintendent, it may make changes to reflect changes in the school district’s organizational chart since Paludi was hired. When Assistant Superintendent Shirley Ferguson stepped down a few years ago, the district opted to eliminate that position and hire Christine Downing in the newly created role of director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.

As education evolves, “we just have to be fluid,” Berger said.

Former Lebanon Superintendent Mike Harris said some of the most important qualifications for the job are intangible and based on the personality of the community.

He said that he started with the intention of staying for a decade and he was there for 11 years.

“I was a local person,” said Harris, who lives in Etna and now works as the Lyme School District’s part-time superintendent. “I wanted to make that my career.”

He found that he “liked being a part of Lebanon,” he said.

Asked whether he would consider returning, Harris said he was “moving in the other direction” — toward retirement.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.