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January 27, 2014

Changes proposed in Pentucket leadership

WEST NEWBURY — Superintendent Jeff Mulqueen is considering a couple of changes to key administrative positions in the Pentucket Regional School District. But some on the school board want more input from parents and teachers before moving ahead with the plans.

At a recent meeting, Mulqueen described a scenario in which high school Principal Jonathan Seymour would permanently expand his responsibilities to include principalship of the middle school. It’s a role Seymour is currently filling on a temporary basis through the end of this school year.

Seymour was assigned the additional responsibilities when Jack O’Mara, former principal of Page Elementary School, retired in December. Mulqueen moved middle school Principal Debra Lay to fill O’Mara’s post until June, and tapped Seymour to cover for Lay, as well as continue in his post at the high school.

Subsequently, Lay announced that she would be leaving Pentucket at the end of this school year, and the search was on to find a replacement for her.

Continuing the current model with Seymour at the helm would provide continuity and consistency for staff, students and parents, Mulqueen said. The salary scheduled for the principal position would be used in part to hire a new assistant principal at the middle school, he added.

School Committee representative Jill Eichhorst of West Newbury advised Mulqueen that she was already hearing from some parents concerned about how this switch might impact the athletic program at the secondary level, and if middle and high school students would compete for the same limited spots on Pentucket varsity teams.

Mulqueen responded that it was an issue that merited separate discussion, and should not be lumped in with a decision on the idea of shared principalship.

When Mulqueen told the committee of his plan to hold two meetings — one with his staff and another with parents — to discuss the proposed change, West Newbury’s Chris Reading indicated she would like to attend both meetings. Reading said she had feedback from a few teachers regarding the proposal and felt it would be helpful to her understanding of the issues surrounding it if she could listen to Mulqueen’s discussion with the staff.

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