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Peabody High principal selection down to two candidates

PEABODY — The search to fill the vacant principal’s job at Veterans Memorial High School has come down to two finalists, according to Mayor Edward Bettencourt Jr.

Brooke Randall, assistant principal at North Andover High School, spent 15 years at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School in a variety of posts: math teacher, chair of the math department and dean of students.

Matthew Poska has been principal of the Beverly Middle School for 13 years. He served as the school’s assistant principal for two years before being promoted. Poska taught history at Lynn English High School and Thurgood Marshall Middle School in Lynn, and was hockey coach at Lynn English, Swampscott High School and Hamilton-Wenham High School before becoming an administrator.

The selection was made by Bettencourt, who serves on the School Committee, and Superintendent Cara Murtagh. They recently interviewed four finalists. The job pays in the $130,000 range.

The next step is site visits to North Andover High and Beverly Middle School. A team of educators, led by Murtagh, have tours planned for Friday and Monday.

Former principal Eric Buckley, who resigned at the end of the school year for “personal reasons,” spent the past six years as principal of the school. His career spanned 28 years in the Peabody Public Schools, most of it teaching or in administrative positions at the high school.

Whoever is selected as the new principal will face a number of challenges, including raising test scores, and working with the mayor and the School Committee, who have pledged to replace the 48-year-old high school.

Murtagh did not return calls seeking comment.

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