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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Four local candidates vying for Hudson superintendent position, interviews open to the public

Hudson hosts its own Final Four this week, as a handful of local educators seeking to be the town’s next superintendent of schools will be interviewed before the public during School Board meetings scheduled Monday and Wednesday night.

And there’s a 50 percent chance that the finalist for the job will come from Hudson’s own district.

The top four superintendent candidates include Betsey Cox-Buteau, an associate superintendent at Hollis Brookline; Wilton-Lyndeborough Superintendent Trevor Ebel; Mary Ellen Ormond, an associate superintendent in Hudson; and Alvirne High School Principal Bryan Lane, according to School Board Chair Lee Lavoie.

The search to replace retiring Superintendent Randy Bell began March 7, Lavoie said.

A selection committee made up of all the stakeholders in the school district helped pare 17 applicants down to four, Lavoie said.

The committee included a parent, a student representative, a nurse, a guidance counselor, a teacher, an administrative assistant and the special education department head, Lavoie said. The committee interviewed the candidates and made final recommendations to the Hudson School Board.

Lavoie chose not to disclose which candidates are being interviewed Monday to prevent giving an unfair advantage to the earlier group, he said.

The public is welcome to attend the interviews and to provide comment during the public input period at the beginning of the meeting, Lavoie said.

The interview itself will be conducted solely by the School Board, Lavoie said, and will not be broadcast on local television to prevent Wednesday’s candidates from getting an early look at the questions.

“These candidates have all been in front of the selection committee, and they’ve answered many questions,” Lavoie said. “Now, the School Board will ask other questions.”

The interviews are the last step in the superintendent selection process, Lavoie said. Each candidate also will be taken on a tour of the Hudson school system this week.

The School Board hopes to make its final decision in the coming weeks, Lavoie said, and will be finalized through a School Board member’s motion to nominate the finalist for the job.

“It’s the typical process,” Lavoie said. “They wouldn’t start until July 1. All four of them are under contract for their own schools until July 1.”

Lavoie said he hadn’t thought of holding a public forum for input following the interviews, and that the choice ultimately rests with the School Board.

“If somebody called me or emailed me their opinion, I wouldn’t have a problem listening,” Lavoie said.

But Lavoie said the opinions of the public were represented fairly by the selection committee earlier on in the process.

“They all seem highly qualified to run the Hudson School District, which is what we’re hoping for,” Lavoie said. “With Randy Bell retiring, with 49 years in education, they’re big shoes to fill.”

Bell, 70, has been the Hudson superintendent for 13 years, but has almost five decades in education, including experience as a Milton high school principal, the director of the Advanced Studies Program at St. Paul’s School in Concord for 10 years, a lobbyist for the New Hampshire School Boards Association, an assistant superintendent in Keene, and superintendent of schools for the Merrimack Valley School District before moving to Hudson.

Bell had triple-bypass surgery two years ago and said he recently has been experiencing discomfort and complications.

His retirement is effective July 1.

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6490 or mgill@nashuatelegraph.com. Follow Gill on Twitter (@Telegraph_MAG).