Category Archives: Superintendent Search

Public Meeting to Finalize Contract Terms!

More kudos to the SAU board.  Not only did the board select a promising new superintendent, but they are holding a fully public meeting to finalize the superintendent’s contract terms.  This is a great step forward in transparency and accountability.  One must hope it will also be an opportunity for the board to show its receptiveness to taxpayer concerns and those of parents who want underachieving  administrators fired without punishing financial consequences.

Do not underestimate the power of many eyes on the conduct of a board. Parents and taxpayers alike should fill the SAU’s boardroom to show their concern for getting this contract right.  This board has won some respect from me, but many important contract issues remain. (See “Want to be Dissatisfied with Your Job?  Read the Superintendent’s Contract” posted on June 16, 2012.)

This is the SAU 55 meeting notice released today:

The SAU 55 Board will meet on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm at the Superintendent’s Office, 30 Greenough Road, Plaistow, NH to finalize the contract and benefits package of the new Superintendent of Schools.

I hope to see you there.


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Get a Sense of Dr. Metzler

As principal of North Quincy High School, Dr. Metzler wrote a monthly message to the student body.  These brief messages are revealing of the principal’s values and direction which I heartily applaud.  Here is his August message from


I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful summer. As we wind down and get ready to start a new year I would like everyone to think about our core values and how to weave them into your goals for the new school year.

Knowledge, character and service continue to be a major focus at North Quincy High School. As you develop goals, please think about the acquisition of knowledge, the demonstration of strong character and how you can put service before self. Our core values help make North a special place, but it is really the student body that executes our mission.

Remember everyone may not be born smart, but everyone can get smart. It is quite simple! There is no substitution for hard work and you have to want it. Please set high goals for this coming school year, plan on working hard and don’t settle for anything less than you deserve.

Remember we are always here for you and look forward to celebrating your success!


 Dr. Earl F. Metzler, Principal

Given the problem recent generations have with entitlement, it is unfortunate that Dr. Metzler included the exhortation, “…don’t settle for anything less than you deserve,” but in the context I think he meant, “don’t settle for anything less than what hard work earns you.”  I sure wish he would have written that, but otherwise, knowledge, character and service are fine values for all citizens and refreshing talk from an academic leader who does not seem uncomfortable with moral leadership as well.  Kudos, Dr. Metlzer. Kudos, SAU 55 board.

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New Superintendent Announced

Below is the public announcement distributed by SAU 55 this afternoon.   It is good to see the board stressing this candidate’s history of academic leadership and quantifiable results which is a top priority for parents.  Let’s hope the board is equally responsive to the concerns of taxpayers when negotiating the contract.

The SAU 55 Board announces the nomination of Dr. Earl F. Metzler, II of Quincy, Massachusetts as the new Superintendent of Schools for SAU 55. The next step in this process will be to negotiate a contract and starting date.
Dr. Metzler received his Doctorate in Education from Walden University and has served for more than 25 years in public education in Massachusetts, serving as a high school principal, middle school principal, assistant principal, teacher and consultant. He is currently the principal of North Quincy High School, a school with a rich history of student achievement, specifically advanced placement programs. Student achievement and recognition for excellence continue to thrive at North Quincy High School under Earl’s leadership. North Quincy High was recently named one of Massachusetts “smartest” high schools by Boston Magazine. Earl is married and has two daughters.
Earl has worked as a consultant for both the Massachusetts Department of Education and Mass Insight. Working with underperforming schools, Earl has helped author school improvement plans and blueprints for improvement in several large urban districts. The schools that Earl worked with have made vast improvements in student achievement and have sustained positive learning climates.
Earl is a dynamic leader and highly respected by his peers. He has made significant improvements in every school that he has worked producing data-driven quantifiable results. Earl is a graduate of the Illinois Superintendents’ Preparation Academy and has recently defended his doctoral study, which study was published earlier this spring.
The board expects Dr. Metzler’s leadership abilities and commitment to success will be an asset to the continued successes of Hampstead and Timberlane endeavors and they look forward to a smooth transition.
Michael Mascola, Chair
School Administrative Unit No. 55

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A New Candidate is Suggested

Tonight, while the SAU board was meeting in non-public to possibly decide a future superintendent, a passionate endorsement for music teacher Tony Dibartolomeo was sent to me. Written by Len Mullen, a Danville resident and former Timberlane Budget Committee member, it is intended to encourage readers to write the school board to consider Mr. Dibartolomeo as superintendent.  I do not know Mr. Dibartolomeo and do not have an opinion about his suitability as a superintendent, nor do I agree with Len ‘s assessment of the two outside finalists, but I have reproduced Mr. Mullen’s own blog posting (with one small edit) so readers can form their own opinion and take action if they wish. Here it is.

Standard of Excellence

It’s not often that Timberlane and Excellence are uttered in the same breath.  In fact, this only happens when people are talking about the music program.  While Richard La Salle blamed unsupportive parents and uninspired students for his failure, Tony Dibartolomeo inspired the very same parents and the very same students to make beautiful music.  He motivated parents, teachers, and students to be something La Salle could not — excellent.

The departure of Superintendent LaSalle created an opportunity for the school district to turn the page on a decade of failure.  The school board, under a lot of pressure from parents, looked far and wide for a replacement for La Salle.  They identified three.  Any of the three finalists will be a suitable replacement for Richard La Salle.  Any of the three can achieve the same things he did.  If the goal of the the search was to find someone to preside over school board meetings, the search has been a success.  A lot of school board members and SAU 55 employees set their sights no higher than this.  They will celebrate the success of their search no matter which candidate is selected and they will wring their hands when this new superintendent fails to improve the school district.

The rest of us set our sights a lot higher.  We hoped the school board would choose an excellent superintendent.  We hoped they would hire a guy who could promise to make out school excellent — and mean it.  We hoped they would hire Tony Dibartolomeo.

For those who do not know who Tony Dibartolomeo is, he is the Director of the Timberlane Music Program.  He is known as Mr. D to people associated with the program.  Mr. D is the person responsible for the excellent marching bands, concert bands, choruses, and orchestras we are all so proud of.  He is the person responsible for the Timberlane students who are recognized for excellence at state and national competitions.  He is the person who is responsible for the Performing Arts Center.  Mr. D’s title is director and that is what he does.  He hires and directs excellent employees who instill excellence in our kids.

Who would not want our kids to excel outside of the music program?  How awesome would it be for TRSD math teachers to act and succeed like TRSD music teachers?  Wouldn’t be great if your kid’s english teacher taught with the enthusiasm of Louise Pajak?  Or the committment of Ken Clark? Or the dedication of John Mainella?  I promise you no student music teacher has handed out a word search puzzle to the Wind Ensemble.

It would be a loss to remove Mr. D from the PAC, but I have no doubt he has an excellent successor ready to sustain the excellence of the program.   As superintendent, I think we could count on Mr. D to do the same across the district.

This is a no brainer.  Timberlane needs to promote it most successful leader to its most important position.

By Len Mullen, posted on August 22, 2012

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No Decision Yet… Why I Worry

Well, looks like the board did not come to a decision last night.  They are holding another non-public meeting on August 22 .

I cannot urge you strongly enough to watch the presentations by the three candidates being broadcast on cable.  The choice doesn’t look all that difficult to me, but perhaps the board is checking references and coming to grips with contract terms having left the previous contract hanging out there without any public qualification so that any candidate would reasonably think that contract is a good baseline from which to negotiate. As I’ve said before, the objectionable aspect of Mr. LaSalle’s contract was not the salary but the terms.

Here’s why I worry.  The contract will be finalized in non-public and the vote to offer the contract to the candidate will likely be taken in non-public.  If the contract is another gold-plated give away, we, the voters, will have no way of knowing who supported the contract and who opposed it.  I’d have less anxiety if there were some accountability about the nature of the contract.  We must hope, too, that the board exercises some independent thought from the consultant’s contract advice.

The consulting firm, NESDEC, listed five SAUs in their references to the board.  Those same five SAUs (in addition to a few others) were included in the contract committee’s spreadsheet comparison of superintendent contracts. No surprise that all five contracts had an awful lot in common. This means, of course, that the contract committee is using a comparison baseline that has been heavily influenced by the consultant they have hired who is himself  a retired superintendent.

I would heartily like to see fresh thinking and leadership at the SAU with the hiring of an outside candidate.  The superintendent’s contract must clearly define how we can decline to renew a contract without costly penalties, and renewals must be contingent on objective measures of job performance. The superintendent has to be all about academic accountability, and every provision in that contract should show how serious we are about that value.

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Two Great Candidates!

Kudos to the screening and selection committee on finding two stellar candidates for the new superintendent position.  Dr. Hill is tremendously impressive in her depth of experience in teaching and administration, and her downright humanity and straightforwardness.  Dr. Metzler, though never a superintendent, seems to have good administrative depth, a fine respect for the taxpayer and a refreshing frankness, too. Neither of these two candidates hid behind edu-babble, platitudes, or empty phrases.

I urge you to watch the riveting “Meet the Candidates” on cable and make your own decision.  The SAU is meeting in non-public tonight to make theirs.

Cable is broadcasting this hour and twenty-one minute session very, very frequently.  Try to catch it.  You can find the broadcast schedule here:

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Short CV of Superintendent Finalists

Plaistow, New Hampshire

Superintendent Certification
Rivier College

CAGS, School Psychology
Northeastern University

M.Ed, English and School

Professional Experience
Interim Superintendent of Schools, Plaistow, NH

Assistant Superintendent, Plaistow, NH

Director of Special Education, Hampstead, NH

Associate Director of Pupil Personnel Services, Plaistow, NH

School Psychologist, Plaistow, NH

Killeen, Texas

Ed.D, Educational Leadership
Nova Southeastern University

Superintendent Certification
Texas A&M University

M.Ed, Education Administration
University of Mary Hardin Baylor

BA, English and Speech
University of Mary Hardin Baylor

Professional Experience

Instructional Leader/Assistant Superintendent – Killeen, TX

Elementary Principal – Killeen, TX

Interim Assistant Principal – Killeen, TX Middle School Assistant Principal – Killeen, TX High School Teacher – Killeen, TX

Quincy, Massachusetts

Ed.D, Administration
Walden University

M.Ed, Administration
Eastern Nazarene College

BS, Education
Bridgewater State College

Professional Experience

High School Principal – Quincy, MA

Middle School Principal – Quincy, MA

Middle School Assistant Principal – Quincy, MA

Middle School Teacher – Quincy MA


This information was taken from Timberlane Parents Forum, posted by Peter Bealo. (Link on right of this blog page.)

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Watch the Superintendent Candidates on TV

The August 8 meet the candidates night is playing on cable TV.  Check out the schedule at

So far the video is not on Vimeo.

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A Superintendent Requirement — Really?

You’d be surprised what you can learn by looking at a non-profit organization’s federal filings. If you’re like me, you probably hadn’t heard of SERESC until Mr. LaSalle’s retirement.  Mr. LaSalle  left Timberlane to become the Executive Director of SERESC.  We wish him well, though he hardly needs our good wishes.  The previous executive director earned $150,348 for the 2009-2010 year.

SERESC stands for  Southeastern Regional Education Service Center, Inc.  Located in Bedford, NH, it is a non-profit organization involved with educational programs and consulting for local school districts.  It also owns and manages a spacious conference center.  Eight SAUs, including Timberlane, are members of SERESC.  Together these SAUs pay  $3.60 per student  in membership fees annually, which has worked out to about $112,000-$114,000 in recent years.

SERESC’s federal Form 990 filings for the 2010-2011 year stated these as its three largest program services :

  1. Review school districts (sic) compliance with state special education laws (revenue: $734,918)
  2. Brentwood School – an alternative school designed to meet the needs of learning and emotionally challenged students (revenue: $1, 086,263)
  3. Professional Development Center – a conference center with 10 conference rooms , each with state of the art technology and audio visual equipment , and full service catering available (revenue: $945,747).

Let’s take a look at SERESC’s #1 program, compliance with special education laws.  As reported before, the SAU board’s focus group  listed knowledge of special education law as one of the top competencies desired in a new superintendent. I’ll let you judge if this requirement is genuine or an attempt to stack the criteria in favor of a single candidate.

SERESC has done this compliance review every year for the last five years and for all I know they do it every single year.  The lack of an apostrophe in the federal filing is an unfortunate grammatical error leading to great ambiguity.  Does $735,000 encompass all eight member districts or just several?  Given the astronomical sum, I going to assume they survey all eight school districts every year for legal compliance with special education law. Even if they do only a few schools for this minor celebrity ransom, a compliance survey can’t be too infrequent with only eight district members.  So just where is the burning need  for the new superintendent to be a leading expert on special education law and compliance?

I asked SERESC’s  Business Manager, Mr. Wallace, on August 1 about this survey, though before I had the insight about the ambiguity of the apostrophe. His answer is in italics.

  • You have been doing a review of special education compliance for your member districts for how long approximately?  Do you use grant money to pay for this or is this research paid for by the districts? We contract with school districts to do many kinds of services including evaluations of their special education compliance.   Member districts are given a 5% discount on any services provided.

Mr. Feneberg, the current Interim Superintendent and one of the three current finalists, was formerly the Director of Special Education for the Hampstead School District.


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Parents take note.

You are invited to meet the three SAU 55 Superintendent candidates selected by the search screening committee.  Each candidate will have half an hour to speak and answer questions.

DATE:  Wednesday, August 8

PLACE:  Timberlane Regional High School, 36 Greenough Rd., Plaistow, NH (no room given)

TIME: 6 p.m.

The SAU’s public announcement, however, was slightly confusing. It ended thus:

“The SAU Board, after conducting its own series of interviews (August 7, 8 & 9) will meet with the NESDEC consultant (August 13) to rate and choose finalists.”

This seems to me to mean that the SAU Board is keeping its options open and is not necessarily constrained by the selections of the screening committee.  Perhaps someone will ask of the SAU representatives at the Wednesday night meeting what that last phrase means exactly.

Unfortunately I cannot attend this meeting, but if I could these would be my other questions:

What, specifically, would you do to improve academic achievement for Timberlane middle and high school students?

Can you tell us what programs or initiatives you have been directly responsible for that have raised learning outcomes for students in your schools?

I’d welcome hearing from parents who do attend.

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