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Merrimack Valley will hold meet-and-greet with superintendent candidates

Community members will have the chance to meet and ask questions of the three finalists for Merrimack Valley superintendent at 6 tonight at the high school.

“The most important thing that we will do as a board is select a superintendent,” Chairman Tom Godfrey said. “With that in mind, it’s critical that we get the public input, and they get to know the superintendent, because the schools touch everything in our community.”

The new superintendent will replace Mike Martin, who has led the district since 1999. The three finalists to succeed him are: Mike Jette, principal of Merrimack Valley High School; Mark MacLean, assistant superintendent at Kearsarge Regional School District; and Elaine Arbour, assistant superintendent in Claremont, Cornish and Unity.

Tonight’s reception is an informal meet-and-greet where community members can ask questions of all three candidates. School board members will stay with each candidate and record questions and answers.

The search committee, made up of board members from Merrimack Valley and Andover, hopes to make an offer by the end of the month. The finalists will also spend this week visiting each school in the district, and members of the search committee will then visit the finalists’ home districts.

Jette has led the high school since 2004 and served as a teacher and assistant principal before that.

He said he’d like to be superintendent so he can help the district continue on its path of improvement.

MacLean also spent part of his career in Merrimack Valley, working there from 1996 to 2007 as a business and computer teacher.

Merrimack Valley helped shape him into the educator he is today, and he would like to return to lead it, he said.

Arbour primarily handles curriculum and professional development in her role as assistant superintendent for SAU 6.

The public should attend tonight’s meeting because the superintendent is like the chief executive officer of a $37 million corporation and they are like the stockholders, said Lorrie Carey, chairwoman of the search committee.

“If that’s the case and everybody is a taxpayer and therefore a shareholder in the education of our community,” she said, “then they should be there and they should ask questions and they should make sure that the right candidate is chosen that fits the district.”

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3390 or or on Twitter @kronayne.)

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