Lebanon Board Wants Interim AD Hired

Lebanon — The School Board voted unanimously Wednesday night to have the superintendent begin the search for an interim athletic director for Lebanon High School after deadlocking on a permanent appointment earlier this month.

Following a 90-minute nonpublic session, the School Board emerged to take the vote, with newcomer to the board Richard Milius instructing Superintendent Gail Paludi to “explore all options for a temporary replacement for the position of athletic director at Lebanon High School.”

The board had next to nothing to say to the public, and discussed the matter in private for so long that the cable access television employee and minutes taker for the district mistakenly left, thinking the meeting had ended.

The only public comments Wednesday night on filling the position, which has been held up by disagreements between administrators and the School Board over the hiring process, came from board member Hank Tenney, who directed his comments to the media and the public, asking that all questions or concerns about the athletic director be addressed to Paludi instead of himself.

“Don’t call me,” Tenney said.

Messages left for Paludi were not returned Thursday. School Board Chairman Jeff Peavey said Thursday that there is no time line for the hiring an athletic director at this point.

“It’s been put in the superintendent’s hand to research and go out and find one,” he said.

Much of the discussion at a meeting earlier this month centered on the district’s requirement that the athletic director hold a principal’s certificate.

Before the meeting Wednesday, Patrick Corbin — the executive director of the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association who traces his experience in both school administration and athletics to the early 1970s — said he couldn’t recall any school district requiring a principal’s certification for an athletic director.

“I can’t tell you off the top of my head of a single athletic director that I know of that is principal certified because that’s a requirement of the job,” Corbin said, adding that such a requirement could make it more difficult to identify someone for the position.

Paludi said that the requirement is needed because the athletic director oversees and evaluates coaches as well as health and physical education teachers. The salary of an athletic director in Lebanon can range up to $82,000.

Barrett Williams, who was nominated by Paludi for the job of athletic director after a search committee chose him earlier this summer, said on Wednesday that Paludi emailed him after the School Board deadlocked 4-4 on his nomination earlier this month.

He said he withdrew his candidacy the next day.

Williams, who is principal of Sharon Elementary School, said he was dissuaded from taking the job in part from “the whole process in general, and the fact that it went really public.

“And then the other part of it is that I have a job that I love, and school started today,” Williams said Wednesday. “So I had to really make a decision, and I did that, and that’s where we’re at.”

Asked whether to his knowledge his qualifications ever came up as a point of contention between School Board members, or if there were any grievances with his candidacy other than the process that led up to his selection, Williams said he “can’t really speak to some of the politics that go on down there.

“I’m not familiar with it, but you know, in general, people pay administrators a lot of money to do a job,” Williams said. “Usually, when a superintendent recommends a candidate, their recommendation is trusted, and they wouldn’t be recommending (a candidate) if they weren’t qualified.”

Kieth Matte, the boys’ basketball coach who had been rumored to be a finalist for the position along with Williams, said that he has not yet heard from administrators about the status of his candidacy.

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