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March 26. 2013 11:45PM

Goffstown school board votes to hold off on Super search

GOFFSTOWN - The SAU 19 board last night voted to hold off on searching for a permanent replacement for Superintendent Stacy Buckley and decided instead to search for an interim superintendent.

The board made that decision on the advice of Ted Comstock, executive director of the New Hampshire School Boards Association, the entity that will assist SAU 19 in searching for both an interim superintendent as well as a permanent one.

Comstock said now is not a good time to seek a pool of superintendent candidates for a permanent position. "I think it would be difficult to find a permanent replacement this time of year," he said. "The September-October time frame is the best for finding the maximum pool of candidates for a permanent position." Comstock told board members that superintendent searches no longer generate a large pool of qualified candidates. "The old days of getting 50 applicants with just a couple of newspaper ads doesn't happen anymore," Comstock said. "Today, in any given SAU, you might get 15 to 20, and out of that number only between seven and 10 will be viable candidates."

The SAU 19 board, made up of representatives from Goffstown, Dunbarton and New Boston, voted to create a committee to search for a temporary replacement for Buckley, who announced recently that she will be leaving SAU 19 to become superintendent of the Newfound Area School District in Bristol. She submitted her resignation to the SAU 19 board last night, but her resignation doesn't become effective until June 30.

Comstock said interim superintendents typically come from a pool of retired educators - usually from New Hampshire - who have a familiarity with the state's political and work cultures.

"Most of the interim pool are retired superintendents who are limited by law to only work 32 hours," Comstock explained.

Buckley said that given the developments of recent weeks, SAU 19 has a lot of pressing issues to deal with. "It just needs to be someone who knows what they're walking into," Buckley said. "It needs to be someone that wants to do the job."

Buckley was referring to a series of developments that have posed significant challenges for the school administration, such as the March 12 town vote rejecting a proposed $14.5 million bond for improvements to the town's two elementary schools, rejection of the school district's proposed operating budget, the vote by Dunbarton residents to form a new SAU with Bow and the resignation of Jim Hunt, former principal of Mountain View Middle School.

"This is such a huge decision that we need to give it time," said SAU 19 board member Dian McCarthy. "It's more important to do it right than rush it."

Comstock said it would take approximately two months before an interim superintendent is chosen. The New Hampshire School Boards Association, he said, would not charge for assisting the SAU in searching for the interim, but would charge in the vicinity of $10,000 for its assistance in finding a permanent replacement for Buckley.

The New Hampshire School Boards Association will assist the SAU in advertising and attracting a pool of interim superintendent candidates, with the decision on finalists being left to the committee formed by the SAU board.

Comstock said the search for a permanent superintendent will certainly take longer than two months. He said that type of search typically takes about seven months to conduct. "Even though we recruit nationally, we find that most of the interested candidates come from the region," said Comstock. "You need to find a person that's a good fit for your situation."

SAU 19 board Chairman Keith Allard said the board will begin a search for a permanent superintendent sometime in September.

hmetz@unionleader.com


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