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Buchanan Out as Superintendent - School Committee Reaches 'Mutual Agreement'

The Hamilton-Wenham Regional School Committee reached a "mutual agreement" with School Superintendent Dr. Raleigh Buchanan on Thursday night that ends his tenure after less than a year.

The School Committee and Superintendent Dr. Raleigh Buchanan reached a “mutual agreement” in executive session Thursday night that marks the end of Buchanan’s tenure as superintendent after less than a year.

The exact circumstances surrounding Buchanan’s departure are unclear and School Committee Chairman Alexa McCloughan said it might be as long as 14 days until the details of the agreement are released.

Buchanan and makes $169,500 in his first year. The School Committee and were scheduled to discuss his evaluation on Thursday night - Buchanan left before that ever happened.

The board met with Buchanan, along with its attorney Naomi Stonberg and Buchanan’s attorney, Michael Long, in executive session for about one hour and 45 minutes on Thursday night.

The executive session came before the committee was scheduled to discuss the superintendent’s evaluation, but after the unspecified agreement was reached between the committee and Buchanan, the committee voted to remove the evaluation from the agenda.

The committee emerged from executive and Stonberg read a brief statement explaining that the School Committee and Buchanan had reached a mutual agreement that Buchanan's "employement relationship comes to an end" and McCloughan said the committee would have no further comment.

“We’re not taking comments or questions,” McCloughan said.

Buchanan was not sitting in his usual spot – behind his nametag – after the executive session.

Outside the meeting, Long deferred comment to Stonberg’s short statement, which he said "accurately characterized the situation.”

When asked if Buchanan would show up for work on Friday, Long said: “I think he may.”

Initially, the Boards of Selectmen from both towns planned to meet at 9 a.m. at Wenham Town Hall for an emergency joint meeting to discuss the action. Attorneys later concluded that the meeting did not constitute an emergency under the law so, instead, Hamilton Town Manager Michael Lombardo, Hamilton Board of Selectmen Chairman Jennifer Scuteri, Wenham Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren and Wenham Board of Selectmen Chairman Molly Martins will meet instead, according to Scuteri.

A few more details emerged several minutes after Stonberg’s statement; Hamilton Selectman Marc Johnson stepped before the committee to inquire about Buchanan.

“We’re completely in the dark,” Johnson said, latter adding, “We’re just confused on this side of the table.”

Committee members added few more details. Nobody said which committee members were in support of the mutual agreement and which ones were opposed. Committee member Don Gallant said attorneys are drawing up the agreement and that Buchanan has seven days to back out of it.

Mary May 20, 2011 at 10:25 PM
We need to stop making unfounded comments, as any superintendent should want to come to H-W, as we have one of the top performing schools (just look at SAT and MCAS scores and graduation rates) - and we are actually very well funded (read the facts - not the spin from the school committee). Out of 299 schools in the state report - we are better funded than 240 of them, and those that spend "above us" include the likes of Boston (much different cost drivers and State subsidies), as well as dozens of small 250-700 student schools (like the Cape and Islands) who suffer from small size cost issues. In fact if we exclude these small size districts and Boston, we come in at #26 out of about 260 schools - so a top 10% funded school. Instead of crying poor - we should actually promote how well we perform - and how well we are actually funded - and then maybe we can actually attract the top talent we want.
Jay Burnham May 21, 2011 at 12:49 AM
I guess we now know what the School Committee meant when they said they wanted to keep the overfunded, excess $500,000 from last year for "UNEXPECTED" expenses in their reserve E&D fund. It may cost close to that to buy out the remainder of Dr. Buchanan's three year contract. Time for a recall petition for the entire School Committee?
William Harris May 23, 2011 at 11:24 PM
Jay: I would love to add my "John Henry" to that recall petition. Time to vote this committe out of office.
Dick Hewett May 24, 2011 at 01:34 PM
And what would you replace it with?
Heidi Chisholm May 24, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Novel thought, how about we place the inmates in charge of the asylum, our very astute Juniors and Seniors would be quite capable School Committee members. They will just need one adult to sign legally binding contracts and off they will go.

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