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Ashland School principal announces retirement

February 22, 2012
ASHLAND — At a special meeting on Feb. 16, the Ashland School Board accepted the resignation of retiring Principal Bill Tirone, and began the task of finding a new principal for the Ashland School.

Tirone, who will soon be 64, told school board members that his retirement was "not an easy decision." He has spent his entire 40-year career in education in the Ashland school, serving as the school's principal for the past 29 years.

After graduating from Plymouth State College with a B.S. in physical education in 1972, he got his first job as physical education teacher in the fall of that year in Ashland, a position he held for 11 years. In the early 1980's, he earned a Master's degree in school administration at PSC and his state principal's certificate.

Tirone took over as Principal of the Ashland School in the spring of 1983. The school Tirone devoted his career to was named N.H. School of the Year in 2007. In 2008, Tirone himself was named N.H. Principal of the Year.

Following a non-public session on staff personnel, the School Board voted to accept the resignation of Principal Tirone, effective June 30, with what Chair Miriam Brown described as "huge regret."

The School Board then began planning the search for a new principal. Brown and Superintendent Phil McCormack had developed lists of decisions to be made and drafts of the needed advertisements. The board decided to rely, at least initially, on online postings of the principal's position on specialized Web sites , rather than on ads in print media.

The Board reviewed at length the proposed wording of the advertisement, making several changes. How much emphasis to place on Responsive Classroom knowledge and how to set the salary range were two major topics. McCormack suggested a range of $70,000 to $83,000, representing the bottom and middle of the range of salaries currently being paid to principals of similar sized schools in the state. The board decided to up the top of the salary range a little, to $85,000, in order to get more experienced candidates. McCormack cautioned about going too high with the salary, as the 2012-2013 school budget contains a $10,000 health insurance buyout for the current principal, not the full cost of a family health insurance plan that a new principal might need.

McCormack was to rewrite the ad the following day and send it to the board members for their final review. He was also to work on the deadline for the candidates' applications.

The board decided to have a search committee review the applications and select the finalists, from which the School Board would choose the new principal. The composition and size of the search committee was discussed at length. It was decided that there would be seven voting members, including two school board members (Miriam Brown and Mardean Badger), three school staff members to be chosen by the vote of the staff, and two community members to be chosen by the school board. McCormack will serve as a non-voting member of the search committee. (By state law, he will ultimately nominate a candidate for Principal to the school board.) Ads and notices for the two community members were to go out immediately, with a March 1 deadline for letters of interest to the Superintendent. The Board plans to select the two community members at its next meeting on March 6, and will ask the staff to select their members before February vacation. The search committee will review the applications and interview the most promising candidates. Small groups of committee members will also visit the schools of the better candidates. Citing his own experience, McCormack stressed the need for on-site visits, as they often give insights into the candidates that will not be apparent in the interviews and paperwork. The search committee members will then rank the candidates. A short list of finalists will go to the school board for further interviews and final selection. The exact timeline for the whole process remains to be worked out. But, McCormack felt that the timing was still good for the search. He thought that the opening would attract a good number of candidates, with at least four to five candidates that will be of the high quality the school board hopes to find.

Tirone also distributed copies of the flyer on the upcoming school district election that will be mailed to all residents in the week before the March 13 vote.

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