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Franklin superintendent not selected for Manchester job

The Manchester School Board chose Debra Livingston as the district’s next superintendent, leaving Maureen Ward in her role as superintendent of Franklin and Hill school districts for now.

The board announced its decision Saturday morning after Livingston, Ward and a third candidate spent Thursday and Friday touring the district. Livingston was chosen by a unanimous vote, search committee Chairman Ted Rokas said in a release.

“We are pleased with the success of this search and believe that the extensive vetting and interview process led us to the right candidate for the job,” he said.

Since January, Ward has been a finalist for five superintendent jobs, including this one. Three of those jobs were in Massachusetts and two in New Hampshire.

Ward, who came to Franklin in summer 2010, said she wants to be closer to her family in Massachusetts after a family health scare last summer.

“I have made absolutely no secret of the fact that my goal is to be closer to my family. The months of anguish we went through last summer certainly clarified what is important in the life,” she said in an email.

During Ward’s time in Franklin, the district secured a $2 million three-year grant to transform instructional practices in the struggling middle and high schools. That project is finishing its second year.

Ward said if she were to leave, the turnaround project would continue smoothly. As part of the grant, the district hired instructional coaches, a curriculum coordinator and a curriculum director, all from within the district.

“No one person has sole responsibility and the district will function just fine as we all know and agree what the next steps are,” Ward said in an email.

“Franklin is unique in that we used the expertise we had in the district rather than contract out to firms outside of New Hampshire as many other (grant receiving) districts did.”

Ward said she is not a finalist for any other superintendent jobs at this time. Neither the Franklin nor SAU 18 school boards have formally discussed Ward’s possible departure, said board member Tamara Feener. But Ward said the board chairs are well aware of her desire to seek employment closer to her family.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or or on Twitter at @kronayne.)

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