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Finalists Announced for SAU#39 Superintendent of Schools

      Amherst & Mont Vernon, NH – December 22, 2022 -The SAU39 Board, comprised of the School Boards of Amherst, Mont Vernon and the Souhegan Cooperative, is proud to announce its three finalists for the position of superintendent (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Michael Berry, MS, CAGS – Principal at Souhegan High School, Amherst, NH

  • Robert Gerardi, PhD - Superintendent at New Shoreham School District, Block Island, RI

  • Brian O’Connell, M.Ed., Ed.S. – Principal at Bow High School, Bow, NH

      The process for identifying these finalists started last summer when the New England School Development Council (NESDEC) was selected to assist the SAU39 Board in recruiting and screening applicants. NESDEC representative Ken DeBenedictis, Ed.D., worked with a Superintendent Search Committee to formulate notices for the job, posted the notice in multiple locations, and compiled applications through the deadline

of November 18, 2022. Throughout the fall, NESDEC held forums with students, teachers, and community members, as well as sending out surveys, to gather input used to generate a profile of the candidate that would best serve the needs of all of SAU39.

      As of November 18, 2022, 14 qualified candidates had applied. These candidates were reviewed by a Screening Committee, under the guidance of Dr. DeBenedictis. This committee was comprised of 12 members – a representative from each school district’s board (3), an educator from each school district (3), a principal to represent the district-level administrators (1), an Assistant Superintendent to represent the

administrators from the SAU39 office (1), and four members from the communities of SAU39 (4). Over a two-week period in early December, this committee spent many hours reviewing applications, meeting, selecting individuals to interview, and ultimately submitting four candidates to the SAU39 Board for consideration. The SAU39 Board

wishes to thank the Screening Committee for their hard work, input, and invaluable role in this process!

      On December 20, 2022, the SAU39 Board met to make its final decision on who would be moved forward as finalists, selecting the three individuals identified above. The Board is excited to be moving these individuals forward and to continuing the process of working with our communities to find our next Superintendent.

      Updates on future opportunities to meet the finalist can be found on the SAU39 website and are currently expected to be held on January 6th and January 13th.


Mr. Stephen O’Keefe

SAU Board Chair

Mr. Josh Conklin - Amherst School Board

Superintendent Search Committee Chair

Mr. Steven Chamberlin

Interim Superintendent

Why Amherst School Costs Are So High and What to Do About Them 

      The Amherst School District (ASD) Ways & Means Committee today released its third report, entitled, “Why Amherst School District Costs Are So High and What to Do About Them.” This report, and its accompanying Executive Summary, detail the array of high costs for compensation, benefits, and other expenses – including those in the teacher and support staff collective bargaining agreements currently in effect – and how these costs compare to school districts that regularly outperform ASD academically. We also suggest steps that we believe must be taken to curb such excessive spending.

      This latest report is part of our role in providing independent input into, and assessment of, the executive budgeting decisions of the Amherst School Board, SAU39, and school leaders. The previously released reports include: 

      We are also currently assessing the proposal for construction of a new elementary school to replace Clark-Wilkins along with other options that were considered but rejected by the School Board. We will be issuing our analysis on that topic shortly. 

These reports are located on the SAU39 website on the Amherst W&M page. We hope they become an indispensable part of each voter’s consideration for the March voting session, as each topic will indelibly set the pattern for our students’ academic future and Amherst’s fiscal future in the years ahead. 


Respectfully submitted, 


Dwayne Purvis, Chair

Jeff Candito, Vice Chair

Greg Fritz, Secretary

Mike Akillian

Rick Barnes

Steve Frades

Marilyn Gibson (alternate)

Mozammel Husainy

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