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Only one of three Manchester superintendent finalists is currently a superintendent

MANCHESTER— Only one of three candidates vying for the top job at Manchester schools currently holds a superintendent's job, and all three come from school districts significantly smaller than Manchester.

Officials said the three finalists will be in Manchester next week. They will visit schools, participate in a community forum and then undergo closed-door interviews with the Manchester School Board.

The board will have the final say on who is selected to run the school district of about 15,400 students starting this summer, when Tom Brennan leaves the job of superintendent, which he held for four years.

"They're all a little bit different, which I think is better than bringing three identical people to the district," said Ted Rokas, Ward 5 school board member and chairman of the Superintendent Selection Committee.

The three are:

• Vince Cotter, retired superintendent of the Colonial School District in Pennsylvania, a suburban district that educates students in boroughs and townships northwest of Philadelphia.

• Mark Toback, superintendent of schools in Hoboken, N.J., a city across the Hudson River from Manhattan.

• Geoffery Gordon, former superintendent in Port Washington, N.Y., a community on the northwestern edge of Long Island.

Although a Manchester schools news release reported Gordon as the current superintendent in Port Washington, the Port Washington schools website lists another person as superintendent. Rokas said the district statement is mistaken and said he is to blame.

"I believe he said he was a superintendent for 10 years, and now he is a consultant," Rokas said.

The acting human resources director for Port Washington schools said a reporter would have to file a Freedom of Information request for any information about Gordon, including his dates of employment.

Manchester is far bigger than the districts associated with the three finalists. Port Washington had about 5,000 students in 2010-11, according to its New York State report card; Hoboken had 1,730 student last year, according to New Jersey state data; the Colonial School District in Pennsylvania had about 4,700 students, according to its website.

When asked about the size of the districts the three hail from, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas responded: "It doesn't tell you anything. It has nothing to do with anything."

Seventy-eight candidates applied for the position, according to the statement released by the school district. Proact Search, a company involved in the selection, presented 11 names to the Superintendent Selection Committee.

The committee conducted online interviews with eight, and narrowed the list to Cotter, Gordon and Toback.

Rokas said all three will participate in a community forum next Monday at 7 p.m. at Memorial High School.

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