HAMPSTEAD –– The School Board in a 3-2 vote rejected a motion to hire Executive Consultant Earl Metzler as Hampstead’s first-ever superintendent after splitting from the Timberlane Regional School District next summer.
Vice Chairwoman Karen Yasenka suggested promoting Metzler –– who resigned as Timberlane’s superintendent earlier this year –– to the top Hampstead job for a year and paying him $145,000 plus benefits.
Her reasoning was two-fold — based on his performance history and to avoid major changes during a global pandemic and a transitional year for the district.
“I can’t cite one credible reason to not offer him the position,” she said. “For all intents and purposes, he is our superintendent and has been since 2012. He’s not some random person we hired to be our executive consultant for one year.”
In March, Timberlane voters — spanning Plaistow, Atkinson, Sandown and Danville — approved a plan to withdraw from SAU 55 effective July 1, 2021.
Timberlane and Hampstead have historically shared the same SAU, meaning business services, educational leadership, human resources, and for a time, Metzler.
Yasenka believes, “under his leadership, Hampstead’s tradition of excellence in education has continued,” and making a change in leadership now is “simply the wrong decision.”
The only other board member to agree was James Sweeney.
Members David Smith, Megan Malcolm and Chairwoman Caitlin Parnell voted against naming Metzler superintendent.
When asked why she voted against the year-promotion, Parnell said instead she was in favor of a search committee of stakeholders, including administrators, teachers, staff and community members.
“As board members and elected officials we make decisions for the district, but in doing so, we have to listen to our experts and those impacted by our decisions,” she said. “A search committee brings all of those people together to decide the future of the Hampstead School District.”
Yasenka said she is concerned about others on the board making “decisions based upon unsubstantiated comments that are being posted on social media by a handful of vocal critics, including non-Hampstead residents.”
Metzler, who has been open about his interest in an urban school district, said he is considering other job opportunities.
“We have engaged in several conversations about reaching an agreement,” he said, but “I am exploring other opportunities that have been presented already."
He has “not ruled out participating in the interview process or assisting Hampstead in some other role,” he said.
For the remainder of the school year, Metzler will continue to advise the board, provide services and assist Hampstead in becoming a standalone district.