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WMRSD school board begins to plan for superintendent search


June 25, 2014
WHITEFIELD — Since the employment contract for SAU 36 Interim Superintendent Dr. Harry Fensom will expire a year from now on June 30, 2015, the WMRSD school board voted on Monday night to take its first two steps to ready itself and the five-town District as a whole to search for and then appoint a new superintendent.

As a first step, the board agreed to meet for the first 30 minutes at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 14 in order to receive input from the District Leadership Team (DLT) of administrators, with whom, as chairman Greg Odell pointed out, they will need work very closely.

The board also voted to employ the New Hampshire School Board Association (NHSBA) to oversee the superintendent search. Two board members voted "yes," and two abstained, including Odell who serves on the NHSBA's board of directors.

The board agreed to meet with Ted Comstock, NHSBA's executive director, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, July 21. The agenda of the special two-hour public session will include discussion and, if possible, agreement on the school board's role in the process plus an understanding of today's Best Practices. The board will hold its regular meeting afterwards.

The board does anticipate meeting again until Monday, Aug. 4.

Dr. Fensom was first appointed to the post in mid-December, 2009, to replace Whitefield School principal Ellen Turcotte, who served as a short-term interim superintendent with Lancaster School principal as a short-term interim assistant superintendent. At that time then-Supt. Dr. Lou Lafasciano was on a paid administrative leave because of board action taken on Nov. 30, 2009.

Fensom has worked quietly and confidently to restore public confidence and has taken many steps to stabilize what had been a rocky and contentious time in the District.

In other action, the school board decided to leave the after-school program in place at the Jefferson School, since most members said that they believe that the educational and social benefits that the students receive are worth $800 each which adds up to a total yearly cost of some $9,000.

The board and superintendent also agreed that it would be reasonable for Whitefield School principal Mike Cronin and the WES staff to start making plans for three third-grades to be in place on the opening day of school. The kindergarten enrollment continues to remain at 18, and there will be no need to hire an additional teacher, Cronin explained.

The board then agreed to look at the overall use of the District's school buildings rather than just to focus on coming up with a short-term solution for overcrowding at WES.

Apparently this will include studying the feasibility of only having a one elementary school, one middle school and a high school.

The board's facilities subcommittee now recommends that a warrant article be prepared for the March 2015 to install a sprinkler system at WMRHS that could roughly cost $350,000.

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