By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, May 29, 2009
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- School Administrative Unit 21 Superintendent James Gaylord announced Wednesday night that he intends to retire at the end of the 2009-2010 school year.
"I have made a decision along with my family," Gaylord told the SAU 21 Joint Board. "After a good discussion, with my children saying, 'Pack it in dad, it’s enough. You’re too old. Have some fun,’ I will be retiring June 30, 2010 and ending my superintendence."
Gaylord’s decision came as a surprise to members of the SAU 21 Joint Board, who, back in October, offered him a new two-year contract that was to begin July 1 of 2009.
Gaylord said he was letting the board know now because their next scheduled meeting isn’t until September.
"You need to decide what do with the superintendence," Gaylord said, "whether it going to be hired from within or outside the district."
Gaylord said he enjoyed his time as the superintendent of SAU 21, which is made up of six districts: Hampton, Hampton Falls, North Hampton, Seabrook, South Hampton and Winnacunnet.
During his tenure, Gaylord has received a lot of praise for his job performance, as well as criticism including a vote of "no confidence" by teachers in 2005 when he tried to remove the school nurses from the collective bargaining unit.
More recently, several former School Board members called on the Joint Board to not offer Gaylord a new contract, citing failing test scores and what they referred to as a lack of "vision or direction" from the current administration.
"I appreciate all the members of the communities in SAU 21 who have given their time an effort both in support for the superintendent and also opposition of the superintendent," Gaylord said. "It’s been a learning experience."
When Gaylord retires on June 30, 2010, he will be tied with Dr. James Weiss as longest-serving superintendent of SAU 21.
"Dr. James Weiss was here seven years," Gaylord said.
Besides having fun, Gaylord hinted at his plans for the future.
"At this age, I can go out and maybe write a book," he said.
The only request Gaylord made of the board was that they grant him an exit interview next May at a mutually agreed upon time.
Dick Goodman, who serves of the Winnacunnet School Board, said Gaylord’s decision came as a shock.
He made a motion, which was unanimously approved, to have the Joint Board give Gaylord a resolution thanking him for all his work and the leadership he has provided over the years.
"He has done a lot for this SAU, and I wish him well as he approaches retirement," Goodman said.
The board voted unanimously to accept Gaylord’s resignation with regret.
"I hate to tell you that was the only unanimous vote that I have gotten from this board," Gaylord joked.