SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

August 9, 2011

Salem picks Russell for school superintendent

SALEM — Stephen Russell, former superintendent of the Dartmouth public schools in Massachusetts, was chosen last night by the School Committee to be Salem's next superintendent.

Russell won the support of five committee members, including Mayor Kim Driscoll. Members Janet Crane and Kerry Martin preferred Debra Bradley, the other finalist for the job. Bradley recently retired as superintendent of the Sausalito Marin City School District near San Francisco.

Russell will succeed William Cameron, whose last day in Salem is Friday.

Citing his experience and personality, committee member Kevin Carr said Russell was the "best fit for the district."

Committee member James Fleming said Russell rose to the top of a competitive 18-candidate field. "I strongly and firmly recommend him," Fleming said.

Russell is former head of the Gilford, N.H., public schools and of a regional school district in New Hampshire. He served as superintendent in Dartmouth for seven years, beginning in 2003. In an interview last week, he told the committee he was seeking a new professional challenge after reaching a contract impasse with the Dartmouth School Board over salary and other issues.

Russell could not be reached for comment last night.

Martin spoke in favor of Bradley's candidacy, highlighting her experience reducing class sizes and working with at-risk student populations during her 40 years in California schools.

Bradley was superintendent of three systems in California. She had an abbreviated one-year stay in Fontana, a large school district outside Los Angeles. She resigned after reaching a monetary settlement with the school board.

During an initial interview in Salem, Bradley said she left the district due to "illness." Last week, she said the settlement agreement prevented her from publicly discussing the reasons for her departure, but acknowledged she had a conflict with the board over "budget priorities" and that the parties "agreed that we disagreed."

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