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School Committee won’t renew superintendent’s contract

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AYER — The School Committee has decided not to renew Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lore Nielsen’s contract when it expires in June.

School Committee Chairman Daniel Sallet announced the board’s decision at the Feb. 28 School Committee meeting, but didn’t say when the vote was taken.

The contract issue came up as a routine agenda item under new business.

“As you know, the superintendent’s contract expires at the end of the school year,” he said. “We’ve agreed not to renew it.”

The decision was mutual, he later added.

The issue hadn’t been mentioned in a previous open meeting, and there was no discussion during Wednesday night’s meeting.

After the meeting, Sallet acknowledged that the matter had been taken up in executive session, but he didn’t give a date. While he sketched how the vote came about, the reasons for it were unclear.

“It started out yea, but went nay,” he said.

Asked if Nielsen’s release was tied to special education, Sallet said it wasn’t “one specific thing” that prompted the move. Instead, he said the decision was made “in the best interests of both sides as the schools move forward.”

Sharp spikes in special education outplacement tuitions have been blamed for most of this year’s steep school-budget deficit, which led to a bail-out request voters approved at the Feb. 10 Special Town Meeting.

Nielsen declined to comment, but indicated she’d have preferred a different outcome. She’s held the post since the 2003-2004 school year.

The matter will be addressed further at the March 12 School Committee meeting, said Sallet. In addition, a tri-board meeting is set for March 7 and the School Committee will hold a budget hearing March 14.

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