By John Toole
---- — WINDHAM — The new superintendent of Windham schools is Winfried Feneberg, the top deputy administrator from the nearby Timberlane Regional School District.
The School Board last night, in a 5-0 vote, unanimously awarded Feneberg a three-year contract with a starting salary of $131,500.
He will become the first superintendent of School Administrative Unit 95 this July, when Windham officially splits from Pelham and SAU 28.
Feneberg, 52, will succeed Henry LaBranche, who is retiring.
Feneberg may have a big mission out of the gate. Voters are deciding this March whether to build a $31 million middle school.
The School Board had been working toward a deal with Feneberg since Jan. 22, after completing a months-long search process and concluding he should get the job.
“We are very excited to have Mr. Feneberg join us,” said Jerome Rekart, the School Board’s point man in the superintendent search.
Feneberg beat out a field of more than a dozen candidates, including finalist Richard Bergeron, superintendent of the Contoocook Valley Regional School District and a former assistant superintendent in North Andover.
Rekart credited Feneberg’s leadership style as a decisive factor.
“He is a team builder and he seeks consensus,” Rekart said.
The second time was the charm for Feneberg. He was a finalist for the top job in Timberlane last year but was passed over by that district’s board.
“I’m very excited to be your first superintendent,” Feneberg said.
Windham has high ideals and high aspirations, he said.
“I’m just continuously impressed with the quality of education here,” Feneberg said.
A contract was signed at 7:10 p.m. There were two copies.
“You can take one home,” School Board chairman Bruce Anderson told Feneberg.
“That sounds like a good idea,” Feneberg said to laughter.
“We call that the ball and chain,” Anderson kidded Feneberg.
Anderson thanked the search committee for its work as well as the runnerup, Bergeron.
Feneberg characterized the search as thorough. “You must have talked to over 100 people,” he said.
Feneberg was vetted through a process that required him to meet with residents in a town hall-style meeting and saw school officials visit the Timberlane district to check up on his work.