By John Toole
---- — WINDHAM — At least 25 candidates want to serve as principal of Windham High School.
The school district is recruiting for a successor to New Hampshire principal of the year Tom Murphy.
Murphy is stepping down at the end of the school year to become principal of his alma mater in Billerica.
Superintendent Henry LaBranche last night briefed the School Board on the status of the search, which could conclude as soon as next month.
LaBranche, Murphy and Superintendent-elect Winfried Feneberg are all participants in the search effort. A 15-member panel is screening candidates.
“This is going to be an aggressive process,” LaBranche told the board.
Interviews are expected to be held the final week of April.
Murphy’s departure wasn’t the only one on the minds of school officials last night.
The board gave about a 35-minute farewell tribute to former chairman Bruce Anderson, a nine-year board member and leader in the effort to build the high school who was defeated in the election last month.
School officials past and present praised Anderson’s commitment to students and the community.
The Anderson family’s charitable support for a school robotics program and a wind-and-solar system at the high school also drew thanks and praise.
Anderson left with a message of encouragement for the board, which recently saw defeat of a proposed $31 million middle school.
He remembered overcoming challenges to build the high school.
“No one ever said, ‘This is too tough,’” Anderson told them. “You can’t give up.”
There were no speakers during the public comment period, despite two student petition drives aimed at restoring dodgeball to the school district curriculum.
It was the public’s first chance to address the board in the aftermath of the controversial decision by the board to drop dodgeball earlier this month.
The board voted unanimously to spend $115,000 in surplus from the Golden Brook School kindergarten project for air conditioning in that new wing.
Officials previously had cut air conditioning to assure the project would be completed within a $2.5 million budget.
The board also voted unanimously to spend up to $9,300 for improvements to the school’s entrance.
That is, in part, related to security upgrades at town schools in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting.
Murphy informed the board that one of his teachers, band director Jared Cassedy, is one of 30 teachers statewide up for New Hampshire teacher of the year honors.