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Lebanon Hires Interim Superintendent

Joanne Roberts, of Hanover, N.H., answers questions during a public meeting at Sugar Valley Regional Technical Center in Claremont, N.H., on June 6, 2011. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

Joanne Roberts, of Hanover, N.H., answers questions during a public meeting at Sugar Valley Regional Technical Center in Claremont, N.H., on June 6, 2011. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »

Lebanon — The Lebanon School District is one employee closer to having a full administrative staff in place before the beginning of the school year.

One month after former Superintendent Gail Paludi vacated the district’s top job, the School Board unanimously approved the hiring of Joanne Roberts to take Paludi’s place, in an interim capacity, beginning Friday, Aug. 1.

The board seemed eager to have Roberts begin, inviting her into two executive sessions during its meeting Wednesday night.

“It’s a nice time to have her start getting involved,” said board member Hank Tenney.

The Lebanon job will be Roberts’ first as superintendent, though not the first for which she’s applied. In 2011, Roberts was a finalist for the superintendent position for SAU 6 in Claremont, a position Middleton McGoodwin now holds.

Roberts, an 18-year resident of the Upper Valley, is the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for SAU 70, which serves Hanover and Norwich. Previously, she held the position of assistant superintendent of student services for SAU 70. Before becoming an administrator, she taught fifth and third grades at the Bernice A. Ray Elementary School in Hanover.

As an administrator, Roberts has been a staunch advocate of student support services, becoming emotional at a 2010 Hanover School Board meeting where the elimination of classroom aides, as well as a reading coordinator, were considered.

At the Wednesday meeting, Roberts thanked the Lebanon board for selecting her and invited students, parents, staff and community members to “feel free to stop by and visit me.”

In an interview after the meeting, she said she is “so looking forward to getting to know” members of the Lebanon school community.

Part of Roberts’ role will be to create stability during a period of transition for the school district.

In addition to Paludi, Lebanon High School Principal Nan Parsons and Director of Technology Bill Waste left their posts at the end of June. Parsons’ replacement, Tom Marshall, formerly assistant principal at Oxbow Union High School in Bradford, started work on July 18. The district has not yet filled Waste’s spot.

Wednesday was also nine-year veteran employee Jim Fenn’s last day. He and his replacement, Tim Ball, formerly business administrator of the Claremont school district, had approximately two weeks together to prepare Ball to take the reins.

Of the new hires, Roberts said she felt she had a “strong, talented team coming in.”

Her salary for the school year will be $120,000, including benefits. Paludi earned $116,160, excluding benefits.

Over the course of the coming year, School Board Chairman Jeff Peavey has said the School Board plans to continue its search for a permanent superintendent in order to have one in place for the 2015-2016 school year.

In other business, the board appointed former board member Beth White to a seat left vacant when Doug Preston died on June 30.

White, who will take the seat on Aug. 1, previously served six years on the board. Her two children went through the district’s schools. She and her husband, Tim, run TBW Automotive Inc. on Mechanic Street in Lebanon.

Peavey asked the other candidate for Preston’s seat, city Building Inspector and Health Officer Calvin Hunnewell, to come to meetings and consider running for one of the four open seats that will be on the March ballot.

“We would love to have you,” Peavey said. “Thank you for putting your name in.”

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board narrowly approved a $525,000 expenditure to purchase a two-acre Evans Drive property owned by Ann Therrien, 4-3. Peavey, Richard Milius, Christina Haidari and Kathleen Berger voted in favor of the measure, while Tenney, Bob McCarthy and Lori Hibner opposed.

The School Board is in the planning stages of an addition for the Hanover Street School to accommodate a growing student body in the district’s younger grades.

Once the sale is final, Therrien will have the option to lease the two historic buildings on the property from the school district for up to 90 days, Berger said.

After that, Peavey said, the future of the property is “up to the board.”

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