The Goffstown School Board accepted the resignation of Mountain View Middle School Principal Jim Hunt on Friday, March 15, on the eve of a townwide vote in neighboring Dunbarton where residents had to decide whether to leave Goffstown schools and instead send students to Bow.
Hunt’s departure ends a seven-year stint in which he came under increasing criticism for allegedly creating a dysfunctional and hostile educational environment for some faculty and staff at the Goffstown middle school. His resignation became effective immediately, according to SAU 19 Superintendent Stacy Buckley.
Buckley, who is also leaving because she accepted a position as superintendent in the Newfound Area School District in Bristol, said an interim principal will be put in place for the remainder of the school year. She said plans for Hunt’s permanent replacement will begin immediately.
On Friday, March 8, Bow residents voted overwhelmingly, 301-10, to enter into an Authorized Regional Enrollment Area (AREA) agreement with Dunbarton.
On Saturday, March 16, Dunbarton voters followed suit, choosing to send middle and high school students to Bow. The agreement between Bow and Dunbarton would take effect July 1, 2014.
“I’m hoping that with Mr. Hunt’s resignation, more people will vote ‘no’ to Bow,” said Dunbarton resident Ann Carney prior to the Dunbarton School District Meeting, whose three children attended Goffstown schools. “I was always going to vote ‘no’ to Bow because Goffstown has done nothing but great things for my kids, but I know there’s been a lot of concern from parents about what’s been going on at Mountain View.”
Scott Gross, a former Goffstown selectman and School Board member, had hoped news of Hunt’s resignation would sway some votes in favor of continuing the Goffstown AREA agreement.
“I have been one of those who’s been very critical of the situation at Mountain View in recent years,” said Gross, “so I’m relieved to know that the School Board accepted Jim Hunt’s resignation. I think that Mountain View is poised to have a new beginning, and I’m hoping that Dunbarton residents can see the message here.”
In a statement, Hunt said he was proud of his accomplishments at Mountain View Middle School, notably the implementation of a more rigorous math curriculum and accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges in 2009. Hunt did not return phone calls to his office March 15 seeking comment.
“One thing that gets lost in all of this is that Mountain View was twice named Middle School of the Year,” said Gross. “Certainly, Mountain View went through a rough patch, but every organization has its hiccups. But I really think this can be the start of something positive for Mountain View – I’m optimistic.”
School Board Chairman Philip Pancoast wished Hunt well.
“We appreciate all that Mr. Hunt has done over the past seven years, and we wish him the best in his future,” he said.
School Board member Keith Allard echoed Gross’ comments about this signaling a new beginning for the school. “This is going to usher in an opportunity for change,” he said.
A $35,500 study by the consulting firm Learning Innovations at West Ed of Woburn, Mass., did not directly address the criticisms of Hunt’s leadership, but did acknowledge a prevailing sentiment among students and staff that improvements could be made in the academic, social and professional climate at the school.