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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Nashua Board of Education approves salaries for two new high school guidance directors

NASHUA – A divided Board of Education reluctantly approved the salaries for two new guidance directors at the city’s two high schools.

The candidates’ salaries were a hot topic of discussion, particularly as one candidate’s promotion would increase her salary by about 50 percent. ...

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NASHUA – A divided Board of Education reluctantly approved the salaries for two new guidance directors at the city’s two high schools.

The candidates’ salaries were a hot topic of discussion, particularly as one candidate’s promotion would increase her salary by about 50 percent.

Lori Coutu, the candidate for NHS South, has 24 years of experience and would move from $72,800 to $82,000 and is currently a school counselor at South. The NHS North candidate, Nicole LeClair, has five years experience and would move from a little over $52,000 to $79,000.

“Obviously I voted against this motion in committee,” said member Sandra Ziehm. She reiterated concerns on the wage increase discrepancy. She said hiring one guidance director with so little experience demeans the experience of the other.

Member Elizabeth Van Twuyver spoke against the proposed salaries as well. “Salaries are 82 percent of the city’s budget…if we continue to give these large increases in salaries, we’ll be over 82 percent of the city budget.”

Board clerk Kimberly Muise said her position evolved since meeting the candidates.

“I was against this whole decision from the get-go … I went to the meeting to interview these two candidates, I have to say one candidate may have few years of experience but it’s been a long time since I’ve been as impressed with any candidate for any job that I have interviewed,” she said. “Sometimes your experience isn’t by your years, but by the job that you’ve done.”

Muise said the second candidate was very qualified for the position as well. She said they’re lucky that these counselors have stepped up since they had no viable outside candidate.

Superintendent Mark Conrad said he and Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Seusing searched for a better solution and could not find one.

“No one else has come forward with a better solution,” Conrad said. “I do feel fortunate that we had two individuals willing to come forward.”

Conrad said they’ve also considered that the directors may choose to return to their current counselor positions. “We’ll leave their current positions vacant so they can return to them in a year,” he said.

Board member Robert Hallowell said the two salaries aren’t being added on top of the budget.

“We’re paying for it partially with the 11⁄2 (vacant positions),” he said. He also said there is no option of having one director for both high schools. “That’s not the agreement,” he said.

Conrad said no internal candidate was willing to oversee both schools.

Board member Steven Haas reiterated that the new salary reflects the full year schedule and the increase in responsibility.

Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-6402 or tforbes@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Forbes on Twitter (@Telegraph_TinaF).