MANCHESTER, N.H. – Monday’s Board of School Committee meeting began the process to replace outgoing Manchester School District Superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas.
During the meeting’s public forum, several city residents urged the BOSC to obtain significant community input during the search for Vargas’ replacement, a sentiment Mayor Joyce Craig said she had also heard from constituents before the meeting.
BOSC Member Richard Girard voiced disagreement that the process to hire Vargas was not sufficiently transparent, citing over 60 focus groups with a variety of local stakeholders during the effort, along with other initiatives in an effort that took weeks of work and several hundred hours of combined effort among BOSC members on the search committee.
Girard also indicated that providing seats on the committee to non-BOSC members could invite either an unwieldy number of members on the group or resentment among community members who were not accepted as part of the committee.
Craig responded that the requests were not an indictment of the previous search, only a hope that the next search can be even better.
Others on the board, such as Sarah Ambrogi, echoed that viewpoint.
“It’s not enough to have transparency at the end of the process, the community wants to lay out the process. That was not obvious last time,” said Ambrogi. “We need to make it clear to the community now that we’re interested in their feedback.”
Other members of the board voiced concern that the BOSC could build a search committee among themselves that could be trusted to represent the community and the BOSC as a whole, a sentiment challenged by BOSC Vice Chairman Arthur Beaudry.
Beaudry expanded upon Girard’s comments regarding the makeup of the search committee, noting the logistical complexity involved with even using a small committee, which he had seen during the last three superintendent searches in the city.
“To say (last time) wasn’t good enough, that frustrates me,” he said.
Regardless of the committee’s makeup, Vargas received acclaim throughout the meeting, beginning with praise from community members and continuing with plaudits from BOSC members that culminated with a unanimous vote of confidence in the superintendent.