Dear ConVal Community:
It is with great excitement that we announce the hiring of Kimberly Saunders as Superintendent of ConVal School District (SAU #1). Beginning in January 2016, in preparation for the Interim Superintendent role, Ms. Saunders began to work on transition to her new role and began to assume the roles and responsibilities of the ConVal Superintendent. During this transitional period, Ms. Saunders has done an outstanding job serving families in the district and her performance has clearly demonstrated to the School Board members that she possesses the knowledge, skills and ability to lead our schools through the important and challenging times we face in the coming years.
Kimberly Saunders is well-known and respected within the school district. She has worked with SAU #1 for seven years, and has ably served as Assistant Superintendent under Brendan Minnihan until he departed our district to serve as the new leader of the Laconia School District. The transition was a smooth one and Ms. Saunders has helped our board and the district maintain its course and timeline for the upcoming strategic planning work, which is designed to strengthen and improve our district and its member communities.
The School Board has elected to present Superintendent Saunders with a three-year contract, to ensure a continued smooth transition and consistent leadership during this important time for our students, our taxpayers and all nine of our member communities. SAU #1 is one of the largest school districts in all of New Hampshire, and designing a strategic plan to ensure improved quality, access and affordability of our public schools is of paramount importance to all of us. We are confident Superintendent Saunders will successfully lead our district through these improvements.
You may recall, the School Board recently voted to expend up to $50,000 to conduct a search for a permanent replacement for Superintendent Minnihan. Although Ms. Saunders was always considered a well-qualified, potential candidate for the job opening, our members felt it was important to open a search to find the best person for the job. That decision was made in mid-May and our board’s due diligence began immediately.
During our preparations for the search, a few critical realities came to our attention. First, we became aware that well over a dozen New Hampshire school districts were also searching for a new superintendent, meaning SAU #1 would face a great deal of competition for its own candidate search. We were concerned this would potentially trigger a “bidding war” for a popular job candidate, and drive the price up for a new superintendent.
In addition, the School Board came to the realization that any progress and current work on our district’s strategic plan would have to be delayed by at least one year in order to complete a job search, hiring and transition to new leadership. This caused great concern among School Board members, especially given the current status of relations between communities within SAU #1 and the strong desire by residents in all nine communities to complete and implement a new strategic plan to improve the district, save taxpayer money and boost academic performance.
All of this information was factored into the School Board’s decision not to move forward with an extensive national search process. We took a second and closer look at the current leadership of SAU #1 and asked ourselves, “Can we move forward and accomplish our goals with the existing team?” The answer was a resounding yes.
Given the complicated landscape of our school district and the need for someone to have the knowledge, background and local relationships to help guide our towns through the strategic plan process, we realized Superintendent Saunders was an outstanding asset to SAU #1 and the best choice to guide our students and our schools into the future.
We are thrilled to be moving forward together and all of us are pleased to introduce to you our new Superintendent for SAU #1, Kimberly Saunders.
ConVal School Board