MANCHESTER, NH — After less than an hour of deliberation, the Manchester School Board on Saturday voted to approve Dr. Bolgen Vargas by voice vote as the next superintendent of schools.
The vote came after an hour-long question-and-answer session with the full board, during which Vargas fielded an array of questions and expanded on his resume including how he resolved a budget deficit in Rochester by moving to a private-pay insurance plan; how he helped turn around a failing school by partnering with a college to manage operations, and why he firmly believes a leader’s success is tied directly to a willingness to serve.
Ward 12 School Board Member Connie Van Houten was the only board member to vote against the motion to hire Vargas.
“I think that Dr. Vargas will do an excellent job and I will fully support him, but I voted no on behalf of the many people who told me that, as our Board has often requested, they wanted to see a slate of candidates interviewed, not just one,” Van Houten said Saturday.
The original plan was to present three candidates to the full board. However, one candidate who was never identified publicly dropped out before the public announcement was made, and Dr. Vincent Cotter removed himself from the running last week, leaving Vargas as the only finalist.
Mayor Ted Gatsas, who serves as School Committee Chairman, said he is looking forward to working with Vargas during the budget process and school year. He did not pinpoint any particular quality Vargas expressed during the interview process that won him over.
“As I said, I am looking forward to working with him, which is the best way to be able to tell about someone. The interviewing process isn’t the same as working through everyday situations with them,” Gatsas said.
The deal will become final pending approval of Vargas’ contract, which will be addressed next week by the school board during the regular meeting set for Sept. 26. Gatsas did not know if there were any particular adjustments being made to the existing superintendent contract.
“That will be up to the search committee to iron out,” Gatsas said.
Once approved, Vargas would likely begin work Oct. 1, which is retiring superintendent Dr. Debra Livingston’s last official day with the district.