By Jonathan Phelps
---- — HAMILTON-WENHAM — Superintendent Michael Harvey is gearing up to hire a new principal for Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School.
The new hire will replace interim Principal John Hughes, who has been at the helm of the school for the past two years.
Harvey said 31 people have applied so far, with applications due Monday. The decision for the new principal will likely be made in February, with the new principal starting in July, he said.
“We are really looking for someone to come in and bring some stability and to set a direction for the school,” Harvey said.
Harvey said Hughes has done a great job as the school’s interim leader, but noted the high leadership turnaround at the school in recent years.
A retired educator who worked in Natick for 40 years, Hughes was initially hired to fill in for one year, but was asked come back for a second year after two finalists for the post were denied the job by then-interim Superintendent Peter Gray.
Hughes was hired as the school’s interim principal after Matthew Fox, who worked as principal of both the middle and high schools in Hamilton-Wenham, left to become principal of Veterans Middle School in Marblehead.
A 14-member screening committee will sort through the applications and recommend finalists for Harvey to choose from. That work will begin Monday, Harvey said.
Interviews will take place in January, and each finalist will visit the school for the day and attend a public meeting in the evening, Harvey said.
In the meantime, Harvey is looking for feedback from parents and students through an online survey available on the high school’s website, hwrhs.hwschools.net.
“It is a leadership inventory,” Harvey said. “The survey asks people what qualities they would like to see in a principal.”
This will not be the first hire for Harvey, who started as superintendent in July. Christopher Heath, a principal of an elementary school in Woburn, was hired as principal of Winthrop School in Hamilton this summer.
The salary for the new high school principal will be based on experience, Harvey said.