TOWNSEND -- The North Middlesex Regional School Committee interviewed four candidates for school superintendent this week.
The candidates spent the day touring the district's schools and meeting with town and school officials before their interviews. The current superintendent, Joan Landers, is leaving the district at the end of her contract in June. The School Committee plans to make a decision at its Monday meeting. Members will inform the candidates on Tuesday.
About 20 people applied for the position, according to the School Committee.
Kathleen Burnham, special needs director, North Andover Public Schools
Burnham touted her experience as a teacher, curriculum developer, assistant superintendent, and special education director.
She has worked in several single-school districts in Lowell, Chelmsford, Tyngsboro, and Wilmington.
"I have high expectations for myself and my staff because the kids count on it and deserve it," she said.
Burnham said her willingness to learn, a strong work ethic, and ability to build working relationships will help her serve as superintendent.
Working with other school districts is similar to working in a regional district, she said. In North Middlesex, listening to the three towns and finding common ground would be her goal.
One way she has been able to collaborate regionally is through the Northeast Professional Educators' Network, which she created with NMRSD Assistant Superintendent Nancy Milligan.
Her working relationship with Milligan can be an asset for the district, Burnham said.
"I think we would make a partnership (and) a real dynamic team," she said.
During the interview, Burnham suggested creating career pathways for students.
For example, there could be a communications track with reporting assignments in English class or opportunity to produce a television show through the school's media center.
Heather Wilmot, superintendent, Wiscasset School Department, Wiscasset, Maine
Wilmot began as Wiscasset superintendent in 2015. Previously, she has worked as a teacher, mentor, and assistant superintendent around Maine.
Members of the committee wanted to know why she is interested in relocating to North Middlesex.
Wilmot said the district is a good fit because of its forward-thinking mindset and goals.
"I'm an outside-of-the-box thinker and an innovator," she said. "That was a match for me."
Wilmot also liked that the district has good student achievement, strong community partnerships, and a positive work environment.
Although school systems in Maine can be different, Wilmot said she is prepared to learn the process, policy, and regulations in Massachusetts to serve as superintendent.
She has experience building a school budget and often uses data such as enrollment and past revenue information. The district makes projections and uses filters to make sur schools get what they need.
She said she often makes short YouTube videos to deliver information in a way that's better than using email, she said. The district is looking into developing a phone application for parents to get information, Wilmot said.
Wilmot said she uses Google Documents, so her staff can collaborate and have access to the same information.
Brad Morgan, principal, Essex Technical High School
Morgan has been principal of Essex Tech since 2010.
The school and district formed in 2014 by merging two area vocational schools and another's trade program.
"I think there are a lot of parallels to running a building and running a district," he said.
Morgan's role as principal has resembled that of an assistant superintendent. He has worked on the school budget, oversees the district's administration, and is often in charge when the superintendent is out of the district.
One important strength for a successful superintendent is ability to manage the budget, Morgan said.
He would meet with staff and teachers to understand their needs. A five-year Capital Plan for the school building and a technology plan should also be addressed in the budget, Morgan said.
"In the end, the budget is what's going to give teachers what they need to teach and students what they need in the classroom," he said.
In addition to supporting students in class, Morgan said the district should pay attention to social and emotional needs.
He mentioned that starting next year, Essex Tech will have a full-time school adjustment counselor and academic teacher to help students transition back to classes after dealing with a traumatic issue.
A similar program could be established at schools in the North Middlesex district, Morgan said.
Marie Altieri, deputy superintendent, Acton-Boxboro Regional School District
Altieri began as deputy superintendent in 2007. She is the only finalist who has worked at a regional school district.
"Regional school districts are really different than local school districts," Altieri said. "You're meeting the needs of three different towns with different needs and things going on."
She considered stepping up to become superintendent in Acton-Boxboro, but said the climate wasn't right. Altieri looked outside of the community and thought her skills and goals would fit well at North Middlesex.
One thing that she liked about the district is its ability to pursue grants and partnerships that help save money.
Altieri mentioned the high school building project and accelerated projects at other schools that the Massachusetts School Building Authority reimbursed.
Altieri served on the Acton-Boxboro School Committee. She also taught technology and computer programming classes to middle school students in Lincoln, college students in the Boston area, and Honeywell customers and employees.
She said this background has given her a broad base of knowledge and has helped her be effective in her work.
Positive school culture is one in which students are engaged and staff value their work, Altieri said. She asked her student hosts about what they like about the school, and they spoke highly about their teachers.
"That's a positive school culture and what you're looking for," she said.