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Abbot-Downing principal job nets single finalist

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Monitor staff
Thursday, May 31, 2018

Allenstown Elementary Principal Anthony Blinn is the sole finalist to fill the top spot at Abbot-Downing School.

Concord Superintendent Terri Forsten announced Wednesday that a 10-member search committee was recommending Blinn replace outgoing Principal Kathleen Riordan. The school board, which has the final say, next meets June 4.

Twenty-four candidates applied for the position, Forsten said, and the district interviewed three.

“During our interview with Mr. Blinn, it became apparent that his leadership attributes reflect our needs at Abbot-Downing School,” Forsten said in a statement.

Blinn has been at Allenstown Elementary for 14 years, where he served as principal for four years and special education director for 10. He led the school through several reform efforts, and it was under his stewardship that the elementary school this year left the state’s list of low-performing schools.

After so much time in the district, Blinn said his likely departure would “absolutely be bittersweet.”

Blinn lives in the Capital City with his family, and his children will next year attend Beaver Meadow, Rundlett Middle School, and Concord High. He’s also already well-known to many local parents because of his time coaching youth sports.

“I want to work in my community. Because as principal, I feel like I can have a real impact,” he said.

The Massachusetts native has spent his career in education in New Hampshire. Before Allenstown, Blinn held posts in Rumney, Gilmanton, and Nashua, all in special education.

Blinn said working with such a range of kids had given him a pretty holistic perspective on schooling.

“You really start to see the trends in the educational system, the areas in which you can improve, and you also get a flavor for the families and what they think about the school system,” he said.

Riordan, who has been at the helm at Abbot-Downing since 2014, resigned in late April, which is typically late in the year for school officials to give notice. The district posted her position, recruited candidates and performed interviews all in about a month.

Blinn’s departure would leave Allenstown Elementary even less time to fill his spot, since school officials generally start work July 1. Allenstown school board Chairwoman Kris Raymond said Wednesday that Blinn had notified district officials last week he was a finalist, but that she hadn’t known he was the only one. She declined to comment further about the process for looking for a replacement.

“I’m not going to speculate until we have our June 11 board meeting,” she said.

Blinn said Superintendent David Ryan had advertised for the position Wednesday, and added that he was willing to work over the summer in Allenstown, if needed, while they looked for a replacement. But that all depends on whether Concord’s school board agrees to hire him at all, he said, and what the two communities can agree to.

“It’s really up to the school boards, honestly,” he said.

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)