MARBLEHEAD — A search committee has narrowed the list for interim superintendent to three candidates.

The finalists are Herb Levine, former head of Salem and Peabody schools; former Saugus Superintendent Michael Tempesta; and William MacAlduff Jr., the former schools superintendent in Winchester and Wilmington. 

The interim school leader will replace Superintendent Maryann Perry, who has resigned effective June 30 in the wake of a fiscal crisis stemming from the handling of ballooning out-of-district special education costs. 

Jennifer Schaeffner, the interim School Committee chairwoman, said the search committee received 14 applications for the interim post. The group narrowed the list to four, one of whom withdrew to accept a job elsewhere. The remaining three candidates were interviewed April 25, 29 and 30. 

The committee, led by School Committee member Meagan Taylor, plans to meet Thursday at 3 p.m. in the Marblehead High School library computer lab to deliberate and put forward either one or two candidates, Schaeffner said. The School Committee is scheduled to pick the interim superintendent at its meeting Thursday, May 9. 

The finalists

Levine, a Peabody resident, is well known on the North Shore and has stayed active since retiring as Salem superintendent in 2005 after eight years on the job. He most recently served as Peabody's interim superintendent, from 2015 to 2018.

He has also been interim superintendent for the Blackstone-Millville Regional School District, and from 2005 to 2007 was the special assistant to the lieutenant governor and overall coordinator of Recovery High Schools. 

Since 2006, Levine has worked part-time as the director of the Endicott College Sports Management Practicum Program, and he has served as executive director of the New England Association of School Superintendents.

Since 2015, Milford resident Tempesta has worked as the executive director of the Central Massachusetts Collaborative in Worcester, the largest educational collaborative in Massachusetts with a budget of $19.6 million, according to his resume. The collaborative serves more than 500 special needs students from more than 300 communities.

He served as Saugus superintendent from 2013 to 2015, resigning that September due to "professional, personal and health reasons," according to an article in the Saugus Advertiser. 

Tempesta started his career in 1993 as an English teacher at Ashland High School, where he later served as assistant principal and principal. 

McAlduff, of Lexington, has most recently been interim superintendent for Acton-Boxborough Regional Schools, from 2017 to 2018. Before that, he was interim school chief for Dover and Sherborn schools. He was superintendent in Winchester from 2007 to 2015 — the final year on an interim basis — and was superintendent in Wilmington from 2003 to 2007. 

Previously, McAlduff has led the King Philip Regional School District, which includes Norfolk, Plainville and Wrentham, and was a high school principal and assistant principal in Revere and Lexington. 

The background

The superintendent's position became open when Perry agreed to resign earlier this year following revelations about the mishandling of nearly $600,000 in special education tuition bills last year, leading to a budget shortfall. An audit found the schools had held back and paid fiscal 2018 bills in fiscal 2019, a violation of state finance laws and regulations. The act also worsened a budget deficit this year.

The budget crisis caused the resignation or retirement of four of the district's top administrators, including the director of student services, the director of business and finance and director of human resources. The School Committee has moved to fill the business and finance director's position with a part-time hire for the rest of the year. The board has also hired an interim student services director for the upcoming school year.

Perry's resignation is effective June 30, but her last working day in the district is a half vacation day on May 24, according to the separation agreement. She plans to use vacation and personal days through the rest of May and June. 

Former School Committee member Meredith Tedford also announced at the end of January she planned to not seek a third term in the upcoming Town Election; she resigned April 11 amid disagreements with her committee over the fiscal 2020 school budget.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @TannerSalemNews. 

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