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No Consensus from Search Committee on Gray as Permanent Superintendent

Interim Superintendent Peter Gray is hoping to become the permanent superintendent of the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District and the superintendent search committee is working towards a recommendation to the School Committee.

A recommendation could come as soon as Sunday from the search committee charged with deciding whether or not to recommend that Peter Gray become the permanent Superintendent for the .

The 12-member Superintendent Search Committee – 10 of them were in attendance - spent nearly two hours questioning Gray on Thursday night, and then spent another hour discussing what they heard.

He was questioned about everything from how he would work with the School Committee and his management style to his experience building a team and creating a strategic plan.

Why does Gray want to be the permanent Superintendent of the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District?

“In this particular circumstance I have started something and I want to finish it,” adding that he sees potential in the district. “Ultimately I have come to care about Hamilton-Wenham and its students.”

The committee will also consider feedback from about 110 people with faculty, principals, community members and parents in recent weeks. Consultant Glenn Koocher compiled the feedback into a four-page document that also prompts the search committee on areas where he feels Grays deserved to be questioned further.

The committee will meet again on Sunday at 6 p.m. in the Superintendent’s office. The committee could take a final vote on the recommendation at that time, but it will not rush to finish its work, said School Committee Chairman Alexa McCloughan. The School Committee meets next on Thursday and if a recommendation is ready at that time, it will be sent to the School Committee. But the search committee will not rush its decision, McCloughan said.

The committee is charged with making a yes or no recommendation on Gray, with the School Committee having a final say. If the final decision is not to hire Gray, the search will be opened up.

The search committee has less consensus than other search committee for principals and superintendents in Hamilton-Wenham, said search committee member Catherine Harrison, who serves as chairman of the Wenham Finance Committee and is a former School Committee member.

Former Hamilton Selectman Bill Bowler, who said he’s served on search committees for Town Manager and Police Chief plus various school positions, said every finalist is going to have a flaw, noting he’s happy with the hires that have been made.

When asked it he would put forward Gray as part of a pool of finalists in the most recent school superintendent search, Bowler said: “Yes, I would put Peter forward, adding that he would have out Gray “at least in the middle of the pack” amid the six finalists of the search that resulted in the selection of Dr. Raleigh Buchanan.

Buchanan, who came on the job in July 2010, later after less than a year that resulted in his departure. Gray, who was the Assistant Superintendent for finance at the time, . He’s been serving in that position since last June.

Gray said the obstacles he is trying to overcome is that he is not a “typical superintendent” candidate. Although he first wanted to be a music teacher when he graduated high school, he has never been a teacher and his background in school administration comes from a finance and leadership background.

He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from then-New Hampshire College (now Southern New Hampshire University) and a master’s in business administration from Franklin Pierce College.

“Today, superintendents come from all walks of life,” Gray said.

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