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Marblehead School Committee elects new leadership; discusses options for new superintendent

Posted by Terri Ogan  May 17, 2013 01:15 PM

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In a substantially more placid atmosphere than has characterized meetings in recent months, members of the Marblehead School Committee elected a new slate of officers Thursday night at their annual reorganization meeting.

Kathy Leonardson, who was reelected last Monday, is the committee’s new chairwoman. Newcomer Meredith Tedford, who won an open seat in the election, will serve as vice chairwoman. Tom Connolly is the new secretary.

According to policy, the reorganizational meeting always follows the district's annual town election, which occurred Monday.

Results from the election not only brought a new face to the board, but also the opportunity to start fresh after months of tension and strife among members of the committee, including a controversial May 2 meeting that ended in former Chairwoman EuRim Chun leaving her post.

"I think with new members there's always a new complexion on the board," Leonardson said. "I'm optimistic."

Tedford, 41, who has three children in the school system, said she's ready to get business done and start her position as vice chairwoman on a high note.

"It [the meeting] was positively uneventful," Tedford said. "There is a lot of business that needs to be done and this is the right step forward."

In addition to electing new leadership at Thursday night's meeting, the board also discussed options for hiring a new superintendent.

Superintendent Greg Maass, who has served for two years, announced his departure at a School Committee meeting in March, stating that tension among committee members and personal reasons fueled his decision. He had one year left in his contract.

"I think you have administrators internally that know the work, know where we're at currently in terms of culture and philosophy," Maass said. "I would encourage you to look at the internal strengths than looking at the external possibilities."

Other members of the group agreed with Maass to look at internal options for a new superintendent rather than spending thousands of dollars to look at outside possibilities.

On the other hand, Committee Member Richard Nohelty expressed his concern with filling a position while leaving another one vacant.

"My only concern is that you take a talented person out of what they're doing so well," Nohelty said. "Do we create a problem by solving a problem?"

The town's legal council will be present at the June 6 School Committee meeting to discuss next steps in finding new leadership for the school district.

Terri Ogan can be reached at oganglobe@gmail.com, or follow her on Twitter.

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